In view of the current armed conflict in Ukraine, which has major implications for the energy system, and the extreme drought in Portugal, several measures to guarantee the security of the energy supply have been approved through the Portuguese Council of Ministers Resolution 82/2022 of September 27 (“Council of Ministers Resolution 82/2022”):
> Approving the Energy-saving Plan 2022-2023 which includes measures to reduce energy consumption and to invest in renewable energy sources, and which is applicable to the central and local public administrations and the private sector, as explained below. This plan includes measures recommending remote work, reduced lighting, and the regulation of air conditioning in enclosed spaces.
> Establishing a strategic water reserve equivalent to approximately six days of average national consumption in reservoirs associated with hydroelectric dams. These dams are Alto Lindoso, Alto Rabagão, Alqueva, Castelo de Bode, Caniçada, Cabril, Paradela, Lagoa Comprida, Salamonde, Santa Luzia, Vilar Tabuaço, Vilarinho das Furnas, Venda Nova, Baixo Sabor and Gouvães.
> Requiring the liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal operator to urgently promote the installation of transfilling infrastructure in Sines and authorizing an investment of €4.5 million.
Application of Energy-saving Plan 2022-2023 to public administration and private sector
The Energy-saving Plan 2022-2023 establishes distinct regimes for the measures applicable to the central public administration and those applicable to the local public administration and the private sector. The measures applicable to the central public administration are compulsory, while the measures applicable to the private sector and to the local public administration are merely recommended, leaving private entities and local bodies to decide whether to implement these measures.
Although the Energy-saving Plan 2022-2023 does not explain the reason for this difference, it is likely because (i) the local public administration is separate from the central public administration under the Constitution of the Republic of Portugal, and (ii) there is not yet a declared situation of alert to warrant compulsory measures for the private sector. The application of the same measures is not envisaged for the central public administration, the local public administration, or the private sector.
Investments are proposed to foster the production of electricity locally through systems that use renewable energy sources.
Finally, tight time frames—of between 3 and 12 months—are established for implementing some of the measures even though they are compulsory for the central public administration only.
Although human resource management practices that reduce energy consumption (e.g., evaluating the energy savings of remote work) are being promoted for the central and local public administration and for the private sector, it will only be compulsory for the central public administration.
Although this practice may serve to achieve the goals of the Energy-saving Plan 2022-2023, it may entail increased costs for employers if it also becomes compulsory for private entities.
In accordance with the recent changes to the remote work regime, the increase in the number of days employees will telework will entail an increase in remote work expenses, which, in turn, will affect the “employers’ pockets", since employers must pay the additional expenses that the employees support, against evidence, with increased energy costs and network costs associated with working remotely.
Possibility of Energy-saving Plan 2022-2023 becoming compulsory for private sector and local administration
The Council of Ministers Resolution 82/2022 expressly states that if the European Union declares an alert, the Energy-saving Plan 2022-2023 will become compulsory and may include exceptional measures. Therefore, we recommend that companies carry out a detailed analysis of the established measures, and that they strategically anticipate the best way to implement them, not only considering the management of resources and investments but also by creating remote work policies.