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Spain: Tensions rise between CNMC and Government following decision “spill”

 |  December 3, 2018

A recent appearance before the Spanish Senate by Spain’s Secretary of State for Energy, José Domínguez Abascal, in which he announced a possible sanction by Spain’s competition regulator, the National Commission of Markets and the Competition (CNMC), to Naturgy and Endesa for the alleged manipulation of electricity market prices during January 2017 has created unrest within the CNMC, which has seen the comments as an attack on the agency’s autonomy.

Dominguez Abascal said during his speech before the Higher Chamber that the CNMC is “finishing” procedures related to the case opened last December to determine whether both electricity companies had used their gas processing plants to raise the wholesale market price for electricity. The CNMC has been working quietly for months before presenting its conclusions to the regulator’s board. However, the statements by Domínguez Abascal appear to have spilled the conclusions of the investigation, creating discomfort and confusion within the regulator and among the companies involved.

On the other hand, the words of Domínguez Abascal indicate that the electricity companies have indeed engaged in illegal behavior and pressure the CNMC to impose sanctions. The CNMC’s Energy Directorate had already warned when opening the case of “indications of a possible alteration of the energy generation pool in order to obtain higher revenues in restricted markets.” CNMC technicians suspect that Naturgy could have committed this infraction in five facilities and Endesa in one.

In the opinion of people close to the CNMC, these statements put pressure on the investigation to up the pace, with its 18 month term extending until mid-May 2019. The Secretary of State argued that the regulator is “finishing the phase of instruction,” although the CNMC insists that the process is not yet in its final phase: the conclusions of technicians have to go before the council to begin the so-called resolution phase.

Full Content: El Mundo

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