Government measures fail to prevent September from ending with the most expensive electricity bill in history

The average user's bill reaches 103 euros, 54% more than a year ago. FACUA considers it unempathetic to consumers that the vice-president Ribera says that "the bill is reasonably controlled".

Government measures fail to prevent September from ending with the most expensive electricity bill in history

The new measures adopted by the Government have moderated the rise in electricity prices but have not managed to prevent September from ending with the most expensive bill in history. According to FACUA-Consumers in Action's analysis of the evolution of the semi-regulated PVPC tariff, the average user's bill has reached 102.71 euros, 53.8% higher than the 66.78 of the same month last year.

Presenting the analysis at a press conference, FACUA's Secretary General, Rubén Sánchez, pointed out that "taking into account the data of the last month, Vice-President Teresa Ribera's statement that the bill is reasonably under control shows very little empathy with consumers, especially with those who suffer economic problems. The measures that have been taken are positive, but clearly insufficient". Ribera assured this Wednesday in the Congress of Deputies that "the [electricity] bill is reasonably controlled despite the international rally in gas and raw material prices thanks to the decisions that the government has been taking".

"The attack by the electricity oligopoly on consumers and the struggle it is maintaining with the Government is serious enough for the coalition Executive to intervene forcefully on prices", Sánchez pointed out. "This means using a power for which member States are empowered by European legislation in the electricity sector. What we are asking for is for the vast majority of families to be classified as vulnerable consumers and, for at least six months, to be subject to intervention prices that represent at least 50% of the PVPC tariffs".

The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has announced that his goal is that by the end of 2021, consumers will have paid the same amount as in 2018 after discounting the CPI increase. So far this year, according to FACUA's information, the increase compared to the first nine months of 2018 has reached 7.9% for the average consumer. From January to September 2021, the average household user has paid an average of 82.17 euros for their monthly bill. In the same period three years ago it stood at 76.14 euros - in the whole year it was 77.18 euros.

FACUA's secretary general warned that "even if the Government's objective were achieved, electricity tariffs would continue to be disproportionately high". In this regard, he recalled that "in January 2018, the current Prime Minister asked Mariano Rajoy for explanations and measures in the face of the high electricity bill, which continued to rise throughout that year to become the second most expensive in history". "This Government should undertake a major change in the regulation of the sector to reduce the high profit margins of the electricity oligopoly is a question of political coherence," he said.

The year-on-year increase in the average household's bill with respect to the whole of September last year reached 62.0% in the first two weeks of this month, before the lowering of regulated charges, the reduction of the special electricity tax to 0.5% and the cap on gas prices came into effect on the 16th. From 1 to 14 September, the average household's bill, extrapolated to a full month, reached 108.17 euros.

The dramatic increase that continues to occur in the wholesale market in recent days is offsetting much of the downward impact on prices resulting from the Government's measures.

Until last August, when the average user's bill rose to 93.10 euros, the most expensive bill in history had been in the first quarter of 2012: 88.66 euros per month (with VAT at 18%).

Protecting vulnerable consumers

FACUA considers it extremely urgent that the Government undertakes the promised reform of the so-called social tariff and that this involves far-reaching changes to those that have been applied since the socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's term in office.

The association has been calling on the coalition Government for a social tariff with discounts of up to 50% on the bill for families earning no more than 2 minimum wages, which would increase to 3 depending on the number and characteristics of their members. As for consumers at risk of social exclusion, the discount proposed by FACUA would involve up to 70% of the bill, which would reach the entire bill for families whose income prevents them from paying for domestic supplies.

Boycott the oligopoly

FACUA is calling on consumers to boycott the energy oligopoly in the face of the tariff abuses and the blackmail they have been subjected to with the threat of the closure of the nuclear plants following the measures approved by the Government. Thus, the association proposes that consumers without the social tariff who have contracted electricity or gas with Iberdrola, Endesa or Naturgy should leave them and apply for a contract with another supplier.

The boycott is also directed against the subsidiaries of the oligopoly companies that offer the PVPC tariff for electricity and the regulated TUR tariff for gas. These are the reference marketers Curenergía (Iberdrola), Energía XXI and Energía Ceuta XXI (Endesa) and Comercializadora Regulada Gas & Power (Naturgy).

The average consumer

The average household used by FACUA in its analysis has a subscribed power of 4.4 kW - the same at peak and off-peak times - and a monthly usage of 366 kWh. This is a profile drawn up after the analysis of several tens of thousands of bills from inhabited dwellings. As for the percentages of usage in the three time slots of the new billing system, the association has taken as a reference the profile of the average traditional consumer without time zone discrimination published by the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC, according to its initials in Spanish), who uses 45% of electricity during off-peak hours, 29% during peak hours and 26% during flat hours.

From Monday to Friday, peak hours are from 10:00 to 14:00 and 18:00 to 22:00, low hours from 14:00 to 18:00 and 22:00 to 00:00, and off-peak hours from 00:00 to 8:00. On Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays, the off-peak timetable applies 24 hours a day.

Kilowatt hour price increase

In September 2020, the price per kWh averaged 13.00 cents (including 27.19% indirect taxes). This September, the average price was 20.51 cents in off-peak hours, 24.54 cents in peak hours and 31.09 cents in peak hours (including the 10.55% indirect taxes applied to bills issued since 16 September). The arithmetical average between the three sections was 25.38 cents, 95.2% more than a year ago. The weighted average, taking as a reference the usage of the average end-user in each bracket, was 24.62 cents, 89.4% higher than in September 2020.