In the 2000’s and for more than a decade, the electricity industry suffered enormous changes both from a business and from a regulatory perspective. Due to such rapid shift in the business environment, a business’ opportunity window was opened for local players to obtain a leading position in the electricity sector.
Bruchou & Funes de Rioja had the unique chance to assist the nowadays biggest privately owned power-generating company and co-controller of the second largest electricity distributor in Argentina in its organization, and swift growth and expansion in the electricity sector. We have also given advice to Argentina’s nuclear power operator in matters related to EPC contracts related to the life extension of Embalse Nuclear Power Plant and on issues related to the financing of its operations.
In December, 2015, a new pro-market administration took office. The new administration inherited, among other challenges, a huge energy crisis: during the last decade, Argentine turned to be an energy importer (up to USD10 billion during 2015, in the aggregate, including imports of electricity from neighboring countries). To revert this severe situation and through a battery of coordinated measures, the Government is heavily promoting foreign investment in the energy sector in general, and in the electricity sector, in particular (where the peaks of demand often meet –and even exceed- the total capacity of the system).
To foster foreign investment in the electricity sector, the Government launched (based on already existing legislation updated in October, 2015) an aggressive renewables energies promotional plan to meet, in the short term, the goal of having 8% of the national marketed energy consumption coming from renewable sources.
Regarding renewables, through CAMMESA, the Government launched (i) during 2016, two calls for bids (RenovAr 1 and 1.5) which successfully contracted, in the aggregate, 2,424 MW (mostly wind and solar, and also mini hydro, biogas, biomass), and (ii) during 2017, one more call for bids (under RenovAr 2) to contract –in 2017 3Q- additional 1,200 MW from renewable sources.
We managed to be one of the most active firms both on the advice side and on the transactional side. For example, in RenovAr 1 and 1.5, we represented clients in 18 projects (both solar and wind) for an aggregate amount of almost 1,300MW out of the 6,343MW offered (and 2,424 MW contracted) under those rounds as a whole. In the context of RenovAr 2, we advised clients in 16 projects (both solar and wind), for an aggregate amount of almost 1,100 MW.
We also worked in the financing of 10 awarded projects of around 700/800 MW in the aggregate (both thermal and renewables).
Additionally, the Government enacted the new Federal public-private partnership law (Federal Law No. 27,328), which provides for an investor-friendly legal framework to implement Argentina’s federal infrastructure plan (including electricity), establishing the basic rules to structure long-term contracts, and foster bankability and security packages for the projects. Again, our Firm is actively collaborating through the Inter-American Development Bank with the government on the implementing regulations, in order to provide for the details, procedures and specifications within the general framework established by the PPP Law, to channel investments in the energy sector (especially in the energy transmission area).
The Firm’s practice in the field of energy regulations is an integral part of its overall services to players in the energy sector. Regulatory experts work closely with lawyers from other areas such as administrative law, general corporate, banking and capital markets, tax, litigation and labor, among others, to assist clients in the execution of complex transactions.
Remarkably in the tax, litigation and labor practice areas, our teams have experts deeply familiarized with the electricity sector.
Regulatory advice includes compliance with regulatory requirements in the structuring and consummation of the transactions, performing regulatory due diligence and obtaining regulatory approvals. We also assist our clients in the day-to-day matters that arise post-closing and work closely with the management in the development of particular projects.