• Spain's news in English
 

'Hair-rising' electric prices jolt Spaniards

AFP · 19 Jan 2014, 10:28

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
15 held in Spain for smuggling Moroccan migrants on jet skis
A picture taken by Spanish Guardia Civil shows jet skis parked after being seized by the police off the coast of Tarifa. Photo: AFP/Spanish Guardia Civil

15 held in Spain for smuggling Moroccan migrants on jet skis

9 hours ago

Fifteen people were arrested this month in Spain for smuggling Moroccan migrants into the country on water scooters, authorities said on Saturday, terming it a "very dangerous practice."

Spanish police hunt for Moroccan hashish in the Strait of Gibraltar
Packs of hashish seized by the Spanish police in 2013. Photo: AFP/Handout Spanish police

Spanish police hunt for Moroccan hashish in the Strait of Gibraltar

1 day ago

Morocco has become the world’s top producer and exporter of hashish over the past decades and, with just 14 kilometres separating northern Morocco from Spain’s southern Andalucia region, Spanish police have their work cut to stem the flow of illegal drugs.

Astronomers on Quixotic quest to immortalize Cervantes with a star
The star currently known as Mu Arae and author Miguel de Cervantes. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Astronomers on Quixotic quest to immortalize Cervantes with a star

2 days ago

Some celebrities get the honour of having their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But a group of Spanish astronomers have something more cosmic in mind for their own literary star.

Catalan ruling party hit by graft probe ahead of September election
Police arrive at the headquarters of CatDem in Barcelona. Photo: Josep Lago / AFP

Catalan ruling party hit by graft probe ahead of September election

2 days ago

An anti-corruption operation targeted Catalonia's ruling CDC party on Friday, tainting a separatist coalition that wants the wealthy region to secede from Spain if it wins a regional election next month.

What's on in Spain: Sept 2015
Bilbao will host the Red Bull Extreme Cliff Diving Finale. Photo: Diego Jambrina / Flickr

What's on in Spain: Sept 2015

2 days ago

From Roman battle re-enactments, to music festivals to cliff diving, there are lots of great events happening in Spain this September.

Travel chaos threat as September strikes called at Spanish airports
The strikes will take place across Spain on four days in September

Travel chaos threat as September strikes called at Spanish airports

2 days ago

Spanish airport workers have called a series of strikes for September threatening to cause significant delays for holidaymakers.

Emotional homecoming for granny jailed for refusal to demolish home
Photo: Screenshot from RTVE broadcast.

Emotional homecoming for granny jailed for refusal to demolish home

2 days ago

A grandmother who was sent to prison for refusing to see her family made homeless has been released after becoming a cause celebre and winning sympathy across Spain.

Fake traffic police arrested for robbing tourists on Costa Blanca
The uniforms used by the suspects to allegedly rob tourists in fake traffic stops. Photo: Alicante Civil Guard.

Fake traffic police arrested for robbing tourists on Costa Blanca

2 days ago

The Spanish Civil Guard arrested two men who posed as cops to carry out at least twenty robberies by pulling unsuspecting tourists over on 'routine traffic checks'.

Madrid terrorist suspect ran Isis cell planning massacres in Spain
The suspected jihadist was arrested in Madrid on Tuesday. Photo: Interior Ministry

Madrid terrorist suspect ran Isis cell planning massacres in Spain

2 days ago

A 26-year-old who called himself "Salami Jihadi" is accused of running an Islamic State recruitment network that wanted to "carry out massacres and create a climate of mass panic and instability" in Spain.

Barcelona draws up battle lines to curb Airbnb type tourism boom
Screenshot from an Airbnb YouTube advert

Barcelona draws up battle lines to curb Airbnb type tourism boom

2 days ago

Barcelona's new mayor is drawing up the battle lines in a bid to crackdown on uncontrolled tourism but Airbnb insists that there is a simple solution.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
Hermit wanted for remote hilltop shrine. The immoral need not apply
National
Fury as archaeological site ruined and replaced with picnic table
National
‘I should be so lucky’: The Syrian refugee chasing his dream in Spain
National
Pensioner turns priceless fresco into 'Monkey Jesus': The Opera
Travel
Off the beaten track: Fourteen of the best kept travel secrets in Spain
Travel
Away from the hordes: Spain's ten most gorgeous seaside towns
National
Looking for a holiday romance? Come to Spain
National
Battle of the fizz: Cava takes on champagne
National
The ten most repressive points of Spain's gag law
National
Fireman fired for using hose to fill his own pool
National
What recovery? Spanish reject economic 'spin'
Hottest July ever: Spain sizzled in record month
Travel
13 delicious reasons to be a vegetarian in Spain
Travel
Eight of the most crazily cool hotels in Spain
Travel
What's on in Spain: August 2015
National
Urban allotments thrive in crisis-hit Spain
Features
10 facts you didn't know about Spanish wine
National
Best place to commute to London? It's Madrid
National
Gazpacho: Spaniards are going crazy for cold soup
Travel
Seven silly TripAdvisor comments about Spain
Politics
Hot or not? Politicans in Spain are rated on looks
National
Spanish town gives pets equal rights as citizens
National
VIDEO: Seagull steals camera for amazing bird's eye selfie
National
Spanish town brings in compulsory siesta law
National
Hero cops save newborn baby dumped in trash
National
Top 10 Spanish treats to keep you cool in summer
National
Catholic group calls for sex-segregated beaches
National
Spanish chef dumps Trump over racist slurs
National
Madrid mayor to rid city of dictator Franco
National
The survivor's guide to running with the bulls
National
The ten most repressive points of Spain's gag law
National
Spain celebrates ten years of gay marriage
Travel
Top ten tricks to survive the Spanish summer
National
Woof! The top ten dog-friendly beaches in Spain
National
Driver fined €80 for biting fingernails at the wheel
National
Castle for sale, one-time pad of mad queen, €15 million
National
And the most beautiful plaza in Spain is...?
Politics
Spanish mayor's rogue little toes go viral
Top that! Italy snatches pizza title from Spain
National
Diphtheria is 'Russian roulette with real bullets'
Politics
French PM takes flak for taking his kids on state jet to footy final
National
Spain's little 'prince' shamed for racist rant
National
Spain world's second best for work-life balance
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

3,079
jobs available