During 2020, many companies applied the rate option to freeze the price and recover this debt later. However, the recovery of these balances has become increasingly difficult, since the price of the kilowatt has skyrocketed. The case of Compañía Energética de Occidente (CEO) is particular since it is one of the few that does not have this debt, as Ómar Serrano, manager of the trading company, explains.
What is the current status of your operation in its quality and coverage indicators?
We have approximately 430,000 clients at the moment. In quality of service it is what we have performed best; when we arrived in 2010 the quality was one of the worst in the country, at this time we closed with a duration indicator of 20.9 hours.
(EPM will assume the costs when the energy rate freeze ends).
This means that one of our customers runs out of power for approximately 20.9 hours a year. In frequency we close with 16.65 times, that is to say that on average one of our clients loses power one and a half times a month.
These indicators by themselves do not say much, but these data already place Cauca better than the average for the entire country when in 2010 it was at the lower end. Now Popayán has been among the department capitals with the best service for three consecutive years. That speaks volumes about the 13 years we have been in operation.
At this time and for the rest of the year, what is your exposure to the stock market?
At that time we have an exposure of 38%. The truth is that in the electricity system there have been delays in the contract market and we have not succeeded, despite having gone out three times in a year and a half to buy energy, we have not received competitive offers.
(‘We have three investment projects’: Hitachi Energy).
To have that exposure to the stock market, we give guarantees to the market; A very relevant fact is that Fitch Ratings has already rated us twice in a row in the last two years and we have had a credit rating similar to that which any company can obtain.
Do they have debt for subsidies or for tariff option?
In mid-2020, the tariff option was applied throughout the country, many companies maintained it and now the balances accumulate almost $5 trillion. We applied it, but after three or four months we had the option of closing it. At this time, CEO has no balances to collect. Regarding the subsidies, the Ministry has been very judicious and has already paid what corresponds to the first quarter and has already announced the payments for the second quarter.
Have you been affected by the fall and suspension of projects such as those of Trina Solar or Windpeshi?
What the fall in these projects does is tighten the supply of energy in Colombia a bit and now that an El Niño phenomenon is coming, that is going to make the prices on the stock market go up a little.
(What the country would lose in labor productivity due to droughts).
For the peace of mind of all our clients, we act as a buffer, that is to say that if we buy energy for $600 that is not transferred immediately to the clients and there is a ceiling that is of the order of $800 pesos.
Are they going to seek to cover themselves more with contracts?
We plan to go back on the market next month to get energy to reduce our exposure. A very interesting fact is that in 2014, 2015 and 2016 we already had close to 70% hired. That speaks of the provisions that we make to protect our clients.
What is the price per kilowatt?
Providing the energy service to 94% of the families in the territories we serve means that the price we transfer is like the fourth or fifth highest rate in the country, which is explained by the dispersion of users in mountainous areas.
(El Niño phenomenon: its effects and when they will be felt in Colombia).
Have you had cash difficulties?
There is a very telling piece of information and that is that XM periodically publishes that an agent exposed to the stock market fails to comply with the guarantees that it must deliver, it enters the supply limitation process and we do not appear in any of them.
How has your overdue portfolio behaved?
Obviously, when prices rise and unemployment increases, the portfolio increases, but it is a normal situation. To the extent that it decreases, we will return to the same levels.
(‘The world cannot and will not be able to live without oil,’ says Opec).
What are your investment and expansion plans?
In the next five years, we have planned $335,000 million, these are investments for the electrical system, of which we have planned $56,000 million in the system. But the total investment is over $120 billion, when computing resources are included.
DANIELA MORALES SOLER