• 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
The Local List
Six of the best gourmet burger joints in Madrid
It's World Hamburger Day. Photo: Silver Diner / Wikimedia

Six of the best gourmet burger joints in Madrid

To celebrate World Hamburger Day (yes, it really exists) here is The Local's pick of some of the best burgers in Madrid. READ  

Spanish judge opens case against Boko Haram
Chadian soldiers display arms captured from Boko Haram in northern Nigeria in April 2015. Photo: Philippe Desmazes

Spanish judge opens case against Boko Haram

A Spanish High Court judge has agreed to hear a lawsuit against Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram and its leader Abubakar Shekau for crimes against humanity and terrorism. READ  

Catalan lions and bears to start new life in USA
A lioness sleeps in Madrid's zoo. Photo: Pedro Armestre/AFP

Catalan lions and bears to start new life in USA

The wild animals have finally found a new home across the Atlantic after years spent in limbo since their Catalan safari park went bankrupt. READ  

Shocking video
Horse deaths reveal dark side of Rocio pilgrimage
Each year horses, donkeys and mules suffer abuse during El Rocio. Photo: PACMA

Horse deaths reveal dark side of Rocio pilgrimage

Shocking footage reveals the cruelty suffered by horses, donkeys and mules during Andalusia’s largest and most famous pilgrimage. READ  

Eta weapons cache found in French villa
A man walks past a mural in Hernani. Photo: Ander Arrizurieta / AFP

Eta weapons cache found in French villa

Police raided a villa in the southern French town of Biarritz on Thursday and found weapons and bomb-making materials thought to belong to Basque separatist group Eta, according to security sources. READ  

The Local List
The ten best places for foodies in Barcelona
Barcelona is a foodie paradise. Photo: www.hofmann-bcn.com

The ten best places for foodies in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the best European cities for foodies, where you can find everything from Michelin starred greatness to restaurants that have been in the same family for generations. Barcelona expert Rob Dobson tells us his top ten foodie favourites. READ  

John Kerry to make first official visit to Spain
John Kerry pictured in Maryland in March 2015. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP

John Kerry to make first official visit to Spain

US Secretary of State John Kerry will make his first official visit to Spain, after travelling to Geneva this weekend to meet with his Iranian counterpart in a push to seal a landmark nuclear deal. READ  

Gang trafficking Afghans to EU busted in Spain
The gang operated out of Madrid. Photo: mwagner01 / Freeimages.com

Gang trafficking Afghans to EU busted in Spain

Police in Spain have broken up a gang that smuggled Afghans into Europe for a fee of €23,000 READ  

Air traffic controllers call June strike across Spain
Passengers waiting at Madrid Barajas airport during the 2010 air traffic controllers strike. Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

Air traffic controllers call June strike across Spain

Spanish air traffic controllers have announced four days of strikes in June, threatening travel chaos during peak season for tourists visiting Spain. READ  

Girl, 11, sold by parents into marriage in Spain
Photograph of a silhouette of a girl. Photo: Ahmed Shiham / Flickr

Girl, 11, sold by parents into marriage in Spain

Police have rescued an 11-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped and beaten after being sold for marriage by her parents for €17,000 euros. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Education
7 reasons for Spain's newfound love of English
Features
7 reasons why Spain's the best place on earth
National
What’s on in Spain: May 2015
National
The perks and quirks of having a baby in Spain
National
Iceland revokes order to 'kill Basques on sight'
National
Five reasons why it’s good to be gay in Spain
National
Job creation? The truth behind Spain's figures
National
Spain among ten best countries to be a mum
National
The ten greatest things about Spain (in the UK)
National
British expats fall victim to NHS clampdown
Features
Top ten: Madrid's best rooftop bars
Travel
Benidorm: Cultural wonder of the world?
National
King Juan Carlos led 'double-life' with lover
Features
Ten best UNESCO world heritage sites in Spain
Features
Happy book day! Top ten Spanish literary gifts
Features
All the fun of the fair: Seville's Feria de Abril
National
Off with her hair! Queen Letizia debuts new do
National
Barcelona bans tourists from famous market
National
Rockers pen 'We don't love Ryanair' ballad
Travel
Location tours start for 'Game of Thrones' fans
National
Top ten things to do in Castellón
First house sold by lottery ticket in Spain
National
Official: Francisco Franco was a dictator
National
Olives and vino at risk from climate change
National
Olé! Madonna orders tour bullfighting suits
National
Jihadists planned attacks in Spain: judge
Politics
Spain's 'Citizens' party fires up voters
Travel
'No pooing': village tells pilgrims in north Spain
National
Spain gets first memorial stones to Nazi victims
National
Town in shock at expat double murder
National
Brit family of four dead after Gibraltar stabbing
National
What's on in Spain: April 2015
National
Priest arrested for exorcism on anorexic girl
National
Could this be Spain's own Maggie Thatcher?
National
Spain outstrips France and Italy in wine exports
National
What country is Catalonia most like?
International
Exposed: actress who faked Oscar glory
Society
Ten phrases you'll only hear at work in Spain
National
Brooms up! Quidditch casts its spell over Spain
International
Spanish crowned world's happiest language
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

3,392
jobs available