The Law that "Amends the Gas Service Law and other legal provisions" (hereinafter, the "New Law") entered into force on February 9, 2017.
The purpose of the New Law is to fill in the legal gaps existing in a market that, according to the parliamentary discussion, needs to improve the level of competition among their different actors.
Therefore, the New Law introduced significant amendments to Decree Law N°323 and to Law 18,856 which regulated, among other elements, the provision of gas related services (hereinafter, the "Gas Law").
A brief description of the most significant amendments follows:
Free-fare setting with a maximum profitability limit: According to the New Law, the gas distribution companies subject to concessions granted by the State (hereinafter, the "Concessionary Companies") are allowed to freely set their fares, provided that the maximum profitability limit referred to in section 2 is observed.
The National Commission of Energy (hereinafter, the "NCE") is the public entity in charge of monitoring compliance with the maximum profitability limit through an annual profitability check.
The free-fare setting does not apply to Concessionary Companies located in the Magallanes and Antarctic Regions which are subject to a fixed-fare regime.
Reduction of the maximum profitability limit allowed to Concessionary Companies: The New Law maintains the structure of the maximum profitability limit, calculated over the Cost of Capital Rate (hereinafter, "CCR") which has a minimum profit of 6%.
However, the New Law reduces the profitability spread allowed over the CCR, from five to three percentage points.
As a result, the profitability limit is reduced, by the New Law, from 11% to 9%.
The implementation of the new limit is subject to a transitory and gradual implementation which considers the age of the facilities and related elements described in the transitory provisions of the law.
Application of an automatic fixed price regime in the event Concessionary Companies exceed the profitability limit: Before the New Law entered into force, breaching the maximum profitability limit was only a condition for the submission of a request before the Antitrust Court (hereinafter, "FCC") as to whether it was proper or not to impose a fixed-fare regime on offending companies.
The New Law, in contrast, provides for a fixed-fare regime process which automatically applies every time the NCE is able to determine that a Concessionary Company has...