BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s major power distribution firms Edenor and Edesur will hike electricity prices by 9% in and around the city of Buenos Aires, the national regulator said on Saturday, the first rise since a tariff freeze in 2019 to help tamp down inflation.
The National Electricity Regulatory Entity (ENRE) said in a statement that the price increase, coming into effect from Saturday, was needed to “guarantee the continuity, accessibility and normal provision of this essential public service”.
Argentina’s Peronist government has kept power prices frozen since the end of 2019 when it came into power amid high inflation that is running at an annual rate of above 40%, which weighs on growth and consumer spending power.
“Since December 2019, the government of the Frente de Todos has prioritized the need to reduce the impact of rates on the purchasing power of families, businesses and industries, in the context of an economic, health and energy emergency,” ENRE said.
The question of electricity prices had caused tensions between utilities firms and parts of the ruling coalition who wanted to avoid a price hike amid rising poverty levels in the recession-hit South American country.
Edenor holds a concession covering 4,637 square kilometers in Greater Buenos Aires and the northwestern area of the Argentine capital, which has around 9 million residents.
Edesur serves an area of 3,300 square kilometers in the southern area of the capital and in 12 urban districts that surround it.
(Reporting by Lucila Sigal; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Daniel Wallis)