• Spain edition
 
'Hair-rising' electric prices jolt Spaniards

'Hair-rising' electric prices jolt Spaniards

Published: 19 Jan 2014 10:28 GMT+01:00
Updated: 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
What's on in Spain: November 2014

What's on in Spain: November 2014

November in Spain is bursting at the seams for lovers of art, culture, food and sport. Find out what's on as The Local showcases the best the country has to offer in the month before Christmas. READ  

UN slams Spain over assault on migrant
A still image from the video in which Melilla Civil Guard officers are shown beating a migrant before carrying him to the other side of the fence. Screen grab: Prodein/AFP

UN slams Spain over assault on migrant

The United Nations has criticized Spain over a recent incident which saw a Cameroonian man dumped back inside Morocco after video footage showed him being assaulted by Spanish border police. READ  

Ebola outbreak
Spanish nurse may get Ebola all-clear Tuesday
Teresa Romero was recovering "very well" and and "surprises aside" would be able to live a normal life once given the all-clear, a spokesperson for her family said. File photo: Pedro Armestre/AFP

Spanish nurse may get Ebola all-clear Tuesday

Updated: Spanish nursing assistant Teresa Romero will be declared free of Ebola on Tuesday if further tests confirm Sunday's result which showed she no longer had the virus, health officials said on Monday. READ  

Football focus
Real Madrid star Bale in doubt for Barça clash
Welshman Gareth Bale could also miss the first Clásico against Barcelona on Saturday, Spanish press reported. File photo: Christof Stache/AFP

Real Madrid star Bale in doubt for Barça clash

Real Madrid look set to be without Gareth Bale for their Champions League trip to Liverpool on Wednesday after a scan revealed the Welshman has an abdominal injury. READ  

Crimewatch
Six police charged over drug addict's murder
According to the autopsy, the victim died due to a crushed spine and had flesh wounds caused near the time of death. File photo of a police car: Shutterstock

Six police charged over drug addict's murder

A judge believes six police officers from the Spanish city of Cartagena murdered a man who had called them for assistance, taking him to a remote cove and beating him before dumping his body in the sea. READ  

Spain's Ferrovial bids for Australian Transfield
Transfield have held open the door for further possible negotiations on a buyout by Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial. Photo: Pedro Armestre/AFP

Spain's Ferrovial bids for Australian Transfield

Spanish construction giant Ferrovial offered €687 million ($875 million) to buy Australian firm Transfield Services, which rejected the bid as poor value, the companies said on Monday. READ  

Spanish Face of the Week
Exposed: student conman who fooled king
Francisco Nicolás Gómez Iglesias was one of just 2,000 people at the proclamation party for Spain's new king Felipe (pictured) in June. File photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP

Exposed: student conman who fooled king

A 20-year-old student from an elite business school who was arrested last week on suspicion of swindling, forging documents and impersonating public officials cozied up to the cream of Spanish society, even managing to attend King Felipe VI’s proclamation. READ  

Wild weather
Flash floods: woman dies in Canary Islands
The autumn storm saw businesses and garages flooded while landslides caused road closures. Screen grab: YouTube/Agustin Cabeza

Flash floods: woman dies in Canary Islands

Heavy rain caused chaos in the Canary Island city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife on Sunday with one woman dying after she found herself trapped underneath a parked car during flash flooding. READ  

'We will pay off debt': Spain’s 'indignant' party
Pablo Iglesias had previously talked of cancelling Spain's public debt, but is now talking about an "orderly restructuring" of Spain’s financial burden. File photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

'We will pay off debt': Spain’s 'indignant' party

Spain's left-wing Podemos grouping on Sunday backed away from previous hints it would refuse to pay off Spain's public debt, in a bid to win more voters to its cause. READ  

Credit card scandal
Bank chauffeurs had 'black' Visa cards: report
Photo of a chauffeur: Shutterstock

Bank chauffeurs had 'black' Visa cards: report

A dozen chauffeurs working for two major Spanish banks were issued company credit cards so that drivers could make luxury purchases on the behalf of top executives, a Spanish newspaper reported on Monday, part of a scandal which has rocked Spain. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Where's the best place to live in Spain?
Travel
Top ten: great autumn getaways in Spain
National
The great Spanish cities quiz: take it now
National
Revealed: the cost of expat food in Spain
Politics
Catalan leader calls independence vote 'lite'
What's On
Games of Thrones star 'barred' from Seville film set
Health
Spanish nurse contracts Ebola in Madrid
National
Madrid starts fining users of Uber 'taxi' app
Education
Only one Spanish university makes world's top 200
What's On
What's on in Spain: October 2014
Politics
Spanish court suspends Catalan independence vote
National
Catalonia defies Madrid and calls independence vote
National
Spanish village swaps bulls for giant balls
Society
Spain scraps plans for tough new abortion law
National
Spain's royal 'bad boy' to be sent to UK school
National
'This is a great time for entrepreneurs in Spain'
National
Loud porn movie scares locals into calling cops
National
'We'll axe Catalan autonomy but won't send in tanks'
National
Spain's Thatcher square defaced by 'Brits'
National
Top 10: best Spanish movies of all time
National
Gravedigger suspended for corpse photo gaffe
Society
Named: the best city to live in Spain
National
Catalonia's 'Diada': 5 things you need to know
Travel
Top ten amazing activities in Tenerife
National
Spain opens door to ban on burqas
Travel
Top ten: best bike rides in Spain
Travel
Spain to reopen 'world's most dangerous walk': The Camino del Rey
National
'Catalonia could be the shock Spain needs'
National
Office slang: Top ten Spanish expressions
Sport
Think you know Spanish football? Try these amazing facts
International
Australia set to welcome young Spanish workers
Opinion
Is tourism destroying Barcelona?
Society
Fashion fail: Zara pulls plug on 'Holocaust shirt' for kids
National
Man hurt as friend swaps ice bucket for plane
Spain 'would block independent Scotland from joining EU'
Politics
Spain 'would block independent Scotland from joining EU'
International
Spanish police mistake Morocco's king for people smuggler
What's On
What's on in Spain: September
Society
Miss Spain comes out of closet on Instagram
Travel
Top ten: Spain's best natural swimming pools
Property
'Dying' town flogs off land for €200 to woo new blood
National
Gays to blame for Spain's trillion euro debt: senator
Society
Spain's anti-rape guidelines: 1) Close your curtains
National
Woman on Madrid plane had 1.7kg coke in breasts
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

1,723
jobs available