By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – After heated disputes between Brazil’s federal government and the government of the state of Minas Gerais, the National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL) auctioned off on Wednesday four hydroelectric plants operated in the state, raising R$12.1 billion for federal coffers.
“We have definitely brought back the world’s trust in Brazil. Auction of the CEMIG plants yielded R$12.13 billion, above the expectation of the market,” celebrated Brazil’s President, Michel Temer, on social media after the auction results.
The plants were sold to China’s Spic Pacif Energy PTY, Consortium Engie Brasil Minas Geração (two plants) and Enel Brasil S.A. The more than R$12 billion from Wednesday’s auction is expected to go towards decreasing the federal deficit for this year, estimated at R$159 billion.
Outside, trade union movements protested against the auction, with protesters arguing that auction would deliver the national assets to foreigners. Minas Gerais officials also complained stating that the contracts foresaw the automatic renewal of the control of the plants to CEMIG, the state-owned energy company.
“CEMIG expects neither more nor less than it deserves, just what is fair. It fulfilled its part in the contract, making the necessary investments, operating the plants in an exemplary manner, and complying with all legal, regulatory and contractual requirements,” said the open letter to the federal government sent by the Minas Gerais government in July.
According to state officials taking the plants away from Cemig control reduces the company’s generation capacity by almost fifty percent.
But not even the Internet campaign launched by the state against the auctions, with the slogan “Mexeu com Minas, Mexeu Comigo” (Mess with Minas, mess with me), dissuaded the federal government.
“The energy sector has been an example that illustrates the attractiveness and recovery of the Brazilian economy and the interest of national and international investors in backing existing assets and in the implementation of new electric energy projects,” concluded Ministry of Mines and Energy executive secretary, Paulo Pedrosa.