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Energy professionals

A certificate is required for free market operators, and thus a new occupation will be created

Carreiras 236 finalDaniel BuenoBuying and selling electricity in a market that currently consists of roughly 1,800 companies is the main activity in a new career that has increasingly emerged in the energy sector: free market energy operators. It is a multidisciplinary occupation and is mainly for engineers, economists and lawyers. In practice, it is an opportunity for professionals who graduated in these fields but do not wish to stay in universities or dedicate themselves to other more traditional occupations. Starting salaries range from 7,000 to 8,000 reais per month, in addition to fringe benefits similar to those received by operators in the financial market.

The free energy market is a business environment, similar to a stock exchange, in which each consumer negotiates the cost, terms of delivery and forms of payment for each type of energy from different sources: hydroelectric, wind, solar, biomass or fossil fuels. Public energy policies apply to these markets because prices vary according to type of generation, which may range from large hydroelectric and fossil fuel plants to wind, solar or biomass plants, and finally, small hydro facilities. Every power plant is authorized to sell a given number of megawatts to this market per year. Companies may choose from several types of contracts that are monitored by the Brazilian Electricity Trading Chamber (CCEE), a private law and nonprofit government institution regulated by the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (ANEEL). The free market accounts for 25% of all power distributed in Brazil, and it is coordinated by the Brazilian National Interlinked system (SIN), which routes energy based on need throughout Brazil.

“To be an operator in the energy market, professionals need specific knowledge of CCEE and ANEEL standards for example. They must also know how to negotiate and formulate energy futures prices, monitor the supply and demand of electricity and keep abreast of weather forecasts and water levels in reservoirs used for hydroelectric plants,” explains Reginaldo Medeiros, President of the Brazilian Energy Traders Association (ABRACEEL), which consists of 65 companies that either sell power or serve as intermediaries between consumers and producers of electricity. ABRECEEL joined the Foundation for the Technological Development of Engineering (FDTE), part of the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (Poli/USP). It administers an exam every year to certify energy operators.

The next exam will be on October 24, but registration is already closed. Registration for 2016 begins in June. There are now 53 certified professionals, even though the market operates with 300 employees. There are 1,000 companies in Brazil that sell energy, such as CPFL and Light, in addition to Petrobras, Votorantim and ethanol plants that could hire these professionals. Large consumers such as Volkswagen and Ford, as well as companies that produce steel and iron, such as Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio, could also recruit them.

Medeiros notes that certification is one of the prerequisites for the new professional career. “We want the position of operator to be a career registered with the Ministry of Labor, with regular undergraduate courses to be offered at universities.”