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ELECTRICITY PRICES

Spain’s new electricity rates for 2021: the tricks to help you save up to €300 a year

Starting in June 2021, people in Spain will receive new electricity bills with different access rates and corresponding prices. Here's what you need to know about the new system and how to considerably reduce your monthly electricity bill.

electricity tariffs in Spain
Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

As of June 1st 2021, Spain’s main electricity access rates, which customers pay for the regulation costs of electricity, will no longer be frozen as they have been since 2018. 

What does this mean? This means that the costs of transporting and distributing electricity to homes were a fixed price, but from next week onwards the prices will be established by the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC).

The objective of this is to modify tariffs to optimise the use of the electricity network, so that consumption is penalised if it’s used more during the hours of greatest demand.

The electricity charges set by the Spanish government itself will also be updated and will follow the same structure and proposal as the CNMC. As mentioned above, this new rate means that there will different prices depending on the time of day you use the most electricity.

When will it be cheaper or more expensive to use electricity?

It will become more expensive to use electricity in the first part of the day from 10am – 2pm and in the evenings from 6pm – 10pm from Monday to Friday. The average times are between 8am – 10am, 2pm – 6pm and 10pm – midnight. The cheapest times will be in the early mornings on weekdays and all day on Saturday, Sunday, as well as national holidays.

How can I save money on the new electricity bills?

The CNMC has highlighted four possibilities for consumers to be able to save money on electricity moving forward. These include:

  • Adapting your contracted power to your real needs

Those on an estimated energy tariff could switch their contract to only charge them for the energy they actually need. Free power changes are allowed until May 31st, 2022. This must be requested through your energy provider.

Electricity meter. Image: Gerd Altmann / Pixabay

  • Consult the maximum power and consumption data

Check on your energy provider’s website to find out your consumption data and adjust your contracted electricity accordingly. The CNMC suggests that this could save you up to €16 per year by doing this alone.  

  • Avoid simultaneous consumption

The CNMC also recommends that people limit the times they use more than one appliance at once in order. For example, if you use the oven, the kettle and the washing machine at the same time, you will pay a lot more on your bill than if you use them separately. The CNMC has also said that “the iron is one of the devices with the highest consumption. Avoiding turning on all devices at the same time can lead to savings of between €200 and €300 per year”.

  • Shift consumption to periods outside peak hours

If possible, change the times when you use the most energy. For contracted power during the cheapest times, the price is actually 95 percent lower than in the highest period.

What other things can I do to save money on electricity?

The CNMC also suggests doing several things to help you save as much as you can when the tariffs change. These include:

  • Charging your electric vehicle at night, instead of during the day. The difference between charging it at any time of the day or at night is over €300 a year.
  • Setting the refrigerator temperature to 5°C and the freezer to -18°C.
  • Use the ECO setting on your dishwasher.
  • Take advantage of thermal inertia by using the residual heat from the kitchen or oven before you finishing cooking.
  • Reduce the cost of heating and cooling by setting the thermostat of the heating or air conditioning device to 25°C in summer and 20°C in winter.
  • Reduce the temperature setting on your washing machine when washing clothes.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to apply for a discount on your Spanish electricity bill

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MONEY

Rampant branch closures and job cuts help Spain’s banks post huge earnings

Spain’s biggest banks this week reported huge profits in 2021 and cheered their return to recovery post-Covid, but ruthless cost-cutting in the form of thousands of layoffs, hundreds of branch closures and the removal of many ATMs have left customers in Spain suffering, in this latest example of ‘Capitalismo 2.0’. 

A man withdraws cash from a Santander branch in Madrid.
More than 3,500 Santander workers lost their jobs in Spain in 2021 and a further 2,000 more employees working for Santander across Europe were also laid off. Photo: PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

Spanish banking giant Santander on Wednesday said it has bounced back from the pandemic as it returned to profit last year, beating analyst expectations and exceeding its pre-COVID earnings.

Likewise, Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA said on Thursday that it saw a strong rebound in 2021 following the Covid crisis, tripling its net profits thanks to a recovery in business activity.

It’s a similar story for Unicaja (€137 million profit in 2021), Caixabank (€5.2 billion profit thanks to merge with Bankia), Sabadell (€530 million profit last year), Abanca (€323 million profit) and all of Spain’s other main banks.

This may be promising news for Spain’s banking sector, but their profits have come at a cost for many of their employees and customers. 

In 2021, 19,000 bank employees lost their jobs, almost all through state-approved ERE layoffs, meant for companies struggling financially.

BBVA employees protest against layoffs in May 2021 in Madrid. Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, in a move denounced by unions as “scandalous”. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Around 11 percent of bank branches in Spain have also been closed down in 2021 as part of Spanish banks’ attempts to cut costs, even though they’ve agreed to pay just under €5 billion in compensation.

Rampant branch closures have in turn resulted in 2,200 ATMs being removed since the Covid-19 pandemic began, even though the use of cajeros automáticos went up by 20 percent in 2021.

There are now 48,300 ATMs in Spain, levels not seen since 2001.

READ MORE:

Apart from losses caused by the coronavirus crisis, Spain’s financial institutions have justified the lay-offs, branch closures and ATM removals under the premise that there was already a shift to online banking taking place among customers. 

But the problem has been around for longer in a country with stark population differences between the cities and so-called ‘Empty Spain’, with rural communities and elderly people bearing the brunt of it. 

 

Caixabank laid off almost 6,500 workers in the first sixth months of 2021. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP

Just this month, a 78-year-old Valencian man has than collected 400,000+ signatures in an online petition calling for Spanish banks to offer face-to-face customer service that’s “humane” to elderly people, spurring the Bank of Spain and even Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to publicly say they would address the problem.

READ MORE: ‘I’m old, not stupid’ – How one Spanish senior is demanding face-to-face bank service

It’s worth noting that between 2008 and 2019, Spain had the highest number of branch closures and bank job cuts in Europe, with 48 percent of its branches shuttered compared with a bloc-wide average of 31 percent.

Below is more detailed information on how Santander and BBVA, Spain’s two biggest banks, have reported their huge profits in 2021.

Santander

Driven by a strong performance in the United States and Britain, the bank booked a net profit of €8.1 billion in 2021, close to a 12-year high. 

It was a huge improvement from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the bank suffered a net loss of €8.7 billion after it was forced to write down the value of several of its branches, particularly in the UK. It was also higher than 2019, when the bank posted a net profit of €6.5 billion.

Analysts from FactSet were expecting profits of €7.9 billion. 

“Our 2021 results demonstrate once again the value of our scale and presence across both developed and developing markets, with attributable profit 25 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in 2019,” said chief executive Ana Botin in a statement.

Net banking income, the equivalent to turnover, also increased, reaching €33.4 billion, compared to €31.9 billion in 2020. This dynamic was made possible by a strong increase in customer numbers, with the group now counting almost 153 million customers worldwide. 

“We have added five million new customers in the last 12 months alone,” said Botin.

Santander performed particularly well in Europe and North America, with profits doubling in constant euros compared to 2020. In the UK, where Santander has a strong presence, current profit even “quadrupled” over the same period to €1.6 billion.

Last year’s net loss was the first in Banco Santander’s history, after having to revise downwards the value of several of its subsidiaries, notably in the UK, because of COVID.

The banking giant, which cut nearly 3,500 jobs at the end of 2020, in September announced an interim shareholder payout of €1.7 billion for its 2021 results. “In the coming weeks, we will announce additional compensation linked to the 2021 results,” it said.

BBVA

The group, which mainly operates in Spain but also in Latin America, Mexico and Turkey, posted profits of €4.65 billion ($5.25 billion), up from €1.3 billion a year earlier.

The result, which followed a solid fourth quarter with profits of €1.34 billion, was higher than expected, with FactSet analysts expecting a figure of €4.32 billion .

Excluding non-recurring items, such as the outcome of a restructuring plan launched last year, it generated profits of 5.07 billion euros in what was the highest figure “in 10 years”, the bank said in a statement.

In 2020, the Spanish bank saw its net profit tumble 63 percent as a result of asset depreciation and provisions taken against an increase in bad loans due to the economic fallout of the virus crisis.

“The economic recovery over the past year has brought with it a marked upturn in banking activity, mainly in the loan portfolio,” the bank explained, pointing to a reduction of the provisions put in place because of Covid.

In 2021, BBVA added a “record” 8.7 million new customers, largely due to the growth of its online activities. It now has 81.7 million customers worldwide.

The group’s net interest margins also rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to €14.7 billion, said the bank, which is undergoing a cost-cutting drive.

So far, it has axed 2,935 jobs and closed down 480 branches as the banking sector undergoes increasing digitalisation and fewer and fewer transactions are carried out over the counter.

At the end of 2020, BBVA sold its US unit to PNC Financial Services for nearly 10 billion euros and decided to reinvest some of the funds in the Turkish market.

In November, it launched a bid to take full control of its Turkish lending subsidiary Garanti, offering €2.25 billion ($2.6 billion) to buy the 50.15 percent stake it does not yet own.

The deal should be finalised in the first quarter of 2022.

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