• 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

Struggling Spaniards are rebelling against high electricity prices, which have soared by 42 percent since an economic crisis erupted in 2008 reports AFP's Anna Cuenca.

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.
 

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Atletico maintain title push with Elche win
Diego Costa celebrates after scoring in Atletico Madrid's victory over Elche. AFP Photo/Dani Pozo

Atletico maintain title push with Elche win

Atletico Madrid took another step towards their first La Liga title for 18 years as two goals in the last 20 minutes handed them a 2-0 win over Elche at the Vicente Calderon on Friday. READ () »

Three dead after boat capsizes off Spain
A ship of the Spanish national coastguard. File photo: Marcos Moreno/AFP

Three dead after boat capsizes off Spain

Three seamen were found dead and two others were missing after a fishing boat capsized off Spain's northern coast on Thursday, the coastguard said. READ () »

Spain ejects seven illegal migrants from tiny island
File image of Congress Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Spain ejects seven illegal migrants from tiny island

Spain on Wednesday sent back to Morocco seven sub-Saharan African migrants who arrived at an uninhabited Spanish island near the Moroccan coast on an inflatable boat, officials said. READ () »

Spain hails Gareth Bale's wonder goal
Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale (C) scores during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King's Cup) final "Clasico" football match FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid CF at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on We

Spain hails Gareth Bale's wonder goal

Spain on Thursday hailed Gareth Bale's wonder goal that downed arch rivals Barcelona to win the Copa del Rey final, with national sports daily Marca dubbing him 'Gareth Bolt'. READ () »

Real Madrid fans jam streets after Cup win
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas displays the Copa del Rey trophy. Photo: AFP/Gerard Julien

Real Madrid fans jam streets after Cup win

Thousands of cheering Real Madrid fans welcomed their team back to the Spanish capital early on Thursday after winning the Copa del Rey with a 2-1 victory over arch rivals Barcelona. READ () »

Rising imports boost Spain's trade deficit
File photo: PromoMadrid/Flickr

Rising imports boost Spain's trade deficit

Spain's trade deficit jumped by more than a third in February compared to the almost 20-year low it hit a year earlier, official data released on Wednesday shows. READ () »

Fake terrorist jailed for extorting businessmen
His extortion methods, commonly known as revolutionary tax, were actually employed by ETA until 2011. Photo of phone call: Shutterstock

Fake terrorist jailed for extorting businessmen

A man has been sentenced to 25 years behind bars after he pretended to be a member of Basque separatist group ETA in threatening letters sent out to 100 Spanish businessmen. READ () »

Spanish king's plane breaks down again
Spain's King Juan Carlos (centre) at the first UAE-Spain Economic Forum at the Emirates Palace hotel on Monday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Karim Sahib/AFP

Spanish king's plane breaks down again

Spain's King Juan Carlos saw his return home from the Middle East on Wednesday delayed after the military plane he was travelling on experienced engine problems, the fifth such incident in recent months. READ () »

Punches thrown during packed Easter parade
The aged victim of the attack received emergency treatment after the incident. Screen grab: 8 Andalusia

Punches thrown during packed Easter parade

Holy Week celebrations in the Spanish city of Seville were marred by violence on Tuesday when a young man attacked an older man in a dispute over the best spot to watch a passing religious procession. READ () »

Spanish restaurant to be world's most expensive
Sublimotion will offer a “gastro-sensory” spectacle to the lucky dozen; including lights, sounds and levitating dinner plates. Photo: YouTube

Spanish restaurant to be world's most expensive

The Spanish party island of Ibiza will soon house the most expensive restaurant on the planet, where a meal for one will cost the (not so) lucky customer a staggering €1,500 ($2075). READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Spain to open first gay old people's home
National
'Monkey Jesus' restorer to star in music video
Culture
Seven surprising facts about Spain's Holy Week
National
Spanish tax office sells bras for extra cash
Society
Abortion Travel: 'The agency that should never exist'
National
Top expat moans about Spain on Twitter
Society
Email gaffe reveals how Spanish firms exploit young workers
National
Man hacks off own fingers in insurance scam
Travel & Tourism
Top ten: Spain's best beaches 2014
National
Lovemaking lands woman at bottom of well
International
Jobless Spaniards to be kicked out of Germany
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Health
Serial texter suffers first case of 'WhatsAppitis'
Politics
Six reasons why Suárez is Spain's best loved PM
Politics
'Energy giants out to kill off Spain's solar sector'
Society
Spain's hottest jobs 2014
National
Man dies while taking selfie on top of train
Society
Spanish PM turns down free English course
Travel & Tourism
Top Ten: Spain's coolest hotels 2014
Culture
A to Z of The Local's picture galleries
Culture
Scientists discover why some of us 'hate' music
Features
How Barcelona is getting it wrong on cannabis
National
'Spain could be a world leader in solar power'
Society
Could this Spanish Duchess claim the Scottish crown?
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 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

1,401
jobs available