The mass flight of individual consumers from the free gas market to the more economical regulated market contrasts with the timid push of the Last Resort Tariff (TUR) in neighboring communities. The third vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, estimated this Monday at just over 2,000 the number of housing blocks that have contracted the new neighborhood TUR, a figure that did not exist until last October 20 and specially designed so that these users can also benefit from the much lower prices currently offered by the regulated market. Of these registrations, close to 1,000 have occurred in the last month.
Although each new registration of a community of neighbors implies the entry into the regulated scheme of several homes —each block has dozens of homes—, the little momentum is in contrast to what happened in the case of clients with an individual contract. There, the movement is being much faster: only in December there were 100,000 customers who went from the free market to the TUR, a figure to which must be added another 230,000 who did so in November. In total, just over two million homes. Behind this double reality several possible explanations emerge, including the difficulties in reaching an agreement among all the residents of the community or the few facilities provided by the energy companies. In its day, the Government estimated that 1.7 million households could benefit from this rate.
Ribera has valued, however, the “improvement in customer service” of companies in the sector to facilitate the transition to the TUR, after a few initial stages of chaos and delays for those who wanted to process the modification of their contract, which led to the opening of an investigation by the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC). According to government figures, the limitation of the TUR approved by the Executive itself will allow a reduction of between 37% and 41% in the cost of gas for households covered by this rate.
Light cheaper than in the rest of Europe
In the electricity market, the second half of last year —after the approval of the Iberian exception, the mechanism that has partially decoupled the price of gas and electricity— was marked by a growing price gap between Spain and the rest of the large European countries, thus turning the tables on the first months of 2022. The cost of electricity in the Spanish wholesale market averaged 208 euros per megawatt hour (MWh), 41% less than in Italy, 35% less than in France and 26% less than in Germany.
Ribera has also updated this Monday the figures on the number of clients receiving the electric social bonus, a subsidized rate for low-income households and large families: last year there were 1.5 million who benefited from this formula. Of these, just over 620,000 were vulnerable; 700,000 severely vulnerable; and almost 10,000 were at risk of social exclusion.
Gas demand falls more than 20%
The escalation of prices, with the consequent destruction of demand both from homes and from industrial and service companies, and the greater awareness of the energy crisis have drastically reduced the consumption of natural gas. Between August 1 and December 31, it fell by 21% compared to the average of the previous five years. An unprecedented decrease —not even during the economic crisis a decade ago did it contract so much—, which even exceeds what was promised to Brussels (15%). The fall rises to 23% if the increase in electricity exports – largely generated with gas – to France and Portugal is not taken into account.
THE COUNTRY of the morning
Wake up with the analysis of the day by Berna González Harbor