The governments new banded tariff system for consumer electricty billing depending on the time of the day of usage has come under fire from consumer groups as well as scepticism that it will improve energy efficiency.
From 1st June, the national system changed to a variable pricing system depending on the time of day and no longer on who is the utility provider or whether you are already on a PVPC contract (Precio Voluntaria para el Pequeño Consumidor) as opposed to a fixed contract.
The new billing system, affects consumers with a contracted power capacity of under 15kW ( most households and small businesses) will now be banded into three tariffs being:
- Peak hours: Monday to Friday excluding national public holidays, from 10.00h to 14.00h and from 18.00h to 22.00h.
- Intermediate hours: From Monday to Friday from 08.00h to 10.00h and from 14.00h to 18.00h and then 22.00h to 23.59h.
- Cheap-rate hours: from 00.01h to 08.00 and 24 hours a day on weekends and national public holidays * ( not local or regional holidays)
Consumers may change their contract for variable wattage; i.e., the maximum kilo-wattage that can be used at any given time, ie you can opt to have a higher wattage delivery (potencia punta) from 08.00h to midnight or lower-wattage delivery (potencia valle) from midnight to 08.00h and 24 hours a day on weekends and national bank holidays.
Together the new system will allow for savings of around 3 % for 19 million households but some maybe be paying more – up to 24 Euros a year.
The Government says that this will bring Spain into line with system used by European neighbours and by reducing fixed charges to variable ones will work out better for households and reduce energy consumption.
However some consumer groups are unconvinced.
The Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), say that the change is likely to excessively penalize smaller consumers at the expense of larger ones.
While the Facua-Consumers in Action said that by making cheap rate at night when consumers are sleeping is not helpful in improving efficiency and penalises them as they will now need to do their household chores of ironing and washing in the early hours in order to be able to take advantage of lower rates.