• Spain's news in English
 

'Hair-rising' electric prices jolt Spaniards

Published: 19 Jan 2014 10:28 GMT+01:00

Buckling under a 26-percent unemployment rate after five years of stop-start recession, many Spaniards battle to pay their electricity bills, the third highest in the European Union after Cyprus and Ireland.

The increase in prices is "hair-raising", said Cote Romero, coordinator of Platform for a New Energy Model, which unites 270 groups including protesters against economic inequality, leftists, unions, cooperatives and ecological organisations.

Some 1.5 million homes were left without electricity in 2012 for failing to pay bills, she said, leaving families with no hot water or cooking facilities.

"But without getting to that dramatic point, there are many families severely rationing their energy consumption," said Romero.

By the end of 2012, 17.9 percent of Spanish households -- more than three million -- were unable to adequately warm their homes, according to the National Statistics Institute.

The Spanish Red Cross said in a report Friday that of the families it had helped, 38 percent were without electricity, "a problem of the first magnitude".

Roman Catholic agency Caritas said its aid to families suffering from "energy poverty" had multiplied by more than 300 percent over the past two years.

A family with two children paid an average 844.80 euros ($1,140) for electricity in 2013, up from 590.20 euros in 2008, according to Industry Ministry data.

Almost half a million consumers joined forces in October to make the first collective purchase of electricity in Spain to try to negotiate a lower price.

Thanks to an online company, HolaLuz.com, which says it distributes green energy, they managed to save an average of 49 euros a year, and up to 180 euros in some cases, said the Consumers and Users' Organisation, the brainchild of the scheme.

"It was a success thanks to the people who raised their voice to day 'I want to pay less for electricity'," the organisation said, congratulating participants.

In the two-part process that determines how much Spaniards must pay to power their homes, the state sets a tariff for energy distribution and companies bid for the right to sell and distribute it.

"It is a speculative auction in which half of the players are financial players," said Romero, whose platform lobbies in Spain and before the European Commission.

In a December auction to set the electricity tariff for the first quarter of 2014, the price soared, threatening to push bills up by 11 percent.

The outcry was such that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government intervened to cancel the result, fixing an increase of 2.3 percent for the quarter while it seeks a new pricing mechanism.

Secretary of State for Energy Alberto Nadal said the Spanish electricity market needed more transparency and competition.

Nevertheless, he blamed high prices on the previous Socialist government's rapid and subsidised introduction of renewable energies based on expensive technologies.

As a result, he said, by the end of 2012, the Spanish electricity deficit -- the gap between the cost of the energy supplied and the regulated price paid by consumers -- amounted to 26 billion euros, for which consumers paid 2.7 billion euros a year in interest and capital.

Greenpeace Spain's energy spokesman Jose Luis Garcia, said that argument was false.

"It is a campaign by the big electricity companies to discredit and then eliminate renewable energies because of the competition they represent," Garcia said.

"The price of energy goes down as more renewable energy becomes available," he said.

In 2013, when clean energies accounted for a record 42.4 percent of total demand, the price of electricity fell for the first time since 2004, by an average of 0.9 percent for households, according to official data.
 

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Football focus
Fifa probe Real Madrid over underage signings
Real Madrid football team on January 24th 2015. Photo:Cristina Quicler/AFP

Fifa probe Real Madrid over underage signings

Real Madrid director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueno has insisted the European champions will collaborate with Fifa over any investigation into their recruiting of players under the age of 18. READ  

2 dead as Greek F-16 jet explodes in Spain: report
A Greek F-16D jet. File photo: Jerry Gunner/Wikimedia

2 dead as Greek F-16 jet explodes in Spain: report

Updated: A Greek fighter jet exploded at Spain's Los Llanos Air Base in Albacete on Monday afternoon with emergency services saying two pilots died in the accident. READ  

Ebola survivor nurse adopts new puppy
Teresa Romero leaving hospital in November after being cured of Ebola Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

Ebola survivor nurse adopts new puppy

The Madrid nurse who was devastated after authorities put down her dog as a precautionary measure has rescued a new pet. READ  

Zara boss snaps up Madrid landmark
Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

Zara boss snaps up Madrid landmark

Amancio Ortega, Spain's richest man and the head of the fashion empire Inditex, has bought a massive building in Madrid's iconic Gran Vía, a move which will see him become the landlord of several rival fashion brands. READ  

Spain could grow 2.5% in 2015: Economy minister
Spanish economy minister Luis de Guindos said the government knows the current forecast of two percent is lower than the market consensus. Photo: AFP

Spain could grow 2.5% in 2015: Economy minister

Spain's recovering economy could grow as much as 2.5 percent this year if oil prices and the euro stay low, the economy minister said in an interview published on Monday. READ  

Galicia: homesick horse causes traffic chaos
File photo of a horse: Shutterstock

Galicia: homesick horse causes traffic chaos

A horse caused havoc along the roads of the Galician town of Carballo at the weekend, when the mare decided to escape its current home and make the dangerous journey back to its original owner. READ  

IN PICS: Galicia's flour bombing fest
People taking part in the annual 'flour fest' in the Galician town of Xinzo de Limia on Sunday January 25th. Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

IN PICS: Galicia's flour bombing fest

Crowds gathered in the Galician town of Xinzo de Limia over the weekend to celebrate 'Floury Sunday', an annual festival that marks the beginning of a month of festivals in the northern Spanish province. READ  

My Spanish Career
'I want to be known as a gonzo chef'
Joel Serra moved to Spain after stints with the Australian Government and consulting with KPMG. Photo: Aldo Chacon

'I want to be known as a gonzo chef'

Chef, entrepreneur, Pilates instructor: meet Barcelona-based New Zealander Joel Serra — a man with many pots on the stove. READ  

King pays respects to late Saudi monarch
Spain's King Felipe, pictured in December 2014, visited Saudi Arabia at the weekend. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP

King pays respects to late Saudi monarch

King Felipe travelled to Saudi Arabia at the weekend to pay tribute to the country's late king, Abdullah, who died on Friday. The Spanish king also met with Saudi Arabia's new monarch, Abdullah's brother, Salman. READ  

Podemos hails Syriza victory in Greece
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras greets supporters following victory in the election in Athens on Sunday. Photo: Aris Messinis/AFP

Podemos hails Syriza victory in Greece

Spain's anti-austerity party hailed on Sunday its Greek radical left-wing ally Syriza which appeared on course for a stunning election victory. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Spanish jobseekers fail exam with answers
National
Moving to Spain: a guide for beginners
National
Spain's new penal code: key talking points
International
Spain among Europe's cheapest nations: study
Features
Top ten surprising Spanish inventions
National
Spain's Repsol ends Canary oil exploration
National
Court to study paternity suit against ex-king
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Politics
Catalan president calls early regional election
National
Top ten: must-know Spanish superstitions
International
'Change Schengen rules to catch Islamists': Spain
What's On
Ten ways to spice up your Spanish life in 2015
Health
Spain tops world organ donation rankings
National
5 things no one tells you about renting in Spain
National
'No Pants Subway Ride' hits Madrid Metro
National
Spain's satirical mags back Charlie Hebdo
National
Spain tightens security after Paris terror attack
National
Finally: a Spanish PM bothers to visit Andorra
National
Woman fined for being kissed while driving
Travel
Top travel highlights in Spain for 2015
National
Gallery: Hits and misses of Antonio Banderas
National
Spain's top news in 2015: The Local's predictions
National
Spain's public holidays in 2015: Official list
National
Christmas fireball lights up Spanish skies
National
Top ten: Spain's biggest stories of 2014
International
Madrid: mouse delays international flight for six hours
National
Confirmed: Spain's Princess Cristina to be tried for fraud
National
Did Vikings settle as far south as Spain?
National
Nativity donkey squashed by fat fan
Society
Lifting the lid on Spain's mysterious Christmas lottery
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
What's On
Top 12 things to do in Spain over Christmas
Politics
Spain passes tough new 'anti-protest' law
Business & Money
Google News quits Spain in paid content row
What's On
How to party like a Spaniard: the ultimate guide
Society
Madrid's shocking slum shames Spanish capital
National
Policeman mauled by lions at Barcelona zoo
Business & Money
Uber eyes appeal against Spain ban
Travel
Google offers virtual views of Spain's wonders
Education
Three Spanish business schools makes Europe's top 10
Health
Spain officially free of Ebola: World Health Organization
Travel
Ten Spanish museums you need to know about
National
Can you pass the Spanish citizenship test?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

613
jobs available