More specifically Ballester de Calatrava, in Castilla La Mancha, who have made themselves energy self-efficient, and want to disconnect from the energy giants.
Ballester de Calatrava is a small village with roughly 400 inhabitants in the province of Ciudad Real (South Castilla La Mancha).
Once upon a time in these lands roamed Don Quixote, fighting windmills and giants. Today it's the townspeople fighting against different kind of giants, the electricity giants.
Ballesteros de Calatrava are aiming to disconnect completely from the current supply lines by the end of 2021, ideally only staying connected to feed clean energy back into the mains grid.
The project consists of a photovoltaic system which should never run out of power due to the amount of sunshine in Ciudad Real. The installation has been performed by +Inteligencia, as are the maintenance, storage & distribution. The total investment is 338,000 Euros, of which 138,000 Euros are being financed by the EU.
Electricity price in Spain
July and August are the most expensive water has ever been in Spain.
For Ballesteros de Calatrava and it's mayor, Juan Carlos Moraleda, it's an easy calculation:
“We have sun and we want to use it and save money in the process”. The electricity bill should drop by a fifth in the first year, and get progressivly lower every year after. Once the investment has been refinanced, the consumers will pay up to 80% less per month compared to now.
Along with being independent, another big plus is that as self-generators they will save themselves the high taxes.
Using the sun to produce energy seems like the obvious thing to do in a country with so much of it, but politics and energy companies had put up many legal barriers and administrative hurdles such as the so called solar tax. Luckily today thanks to changes in the laws and the implementation of more subsidies, pushed largely by the EU, renewable energies are feasable for homeowners, businesses and even whole municipalities. This energy autonomy, says the mayor of Ballesteros, will help fight the rural exodus in Spain. By saving on the electricity bills, the city has more room to manouvre, by for example lowering the IBI property tax for 5 years for new residents. These lower costs should also attract many business to the area, where the mayor wants to focus on sustainable companies.
All 15 villages of the Campo de Calatrava are said to have expressed interest to joining Ballesteros and becoming self sufficient by means of a local grid. They're also commenting the possibility of adding windmils to the solar plants. Don Quixote approves.
A new record every week.
Is Calatrava setting a precedent for others to follow? In rural areas it may be so, but for the big cities a political solutions is also needed. Week after week the electricity price of a kilowatt-hour is going up and reaching new records. As always it's the regular population and the small self-employed who groan under the ever rising electricity costs, which the large suppliers naturally only pass on out of necesity, but “in no way to enrich themselves”, said a statement released on Friday by Iberdrola, Endesa and Naturgy.
A pricing cartel and bill fraud? Spain's competition office accuses
“There is always talk of liberalising the electricity market in the EU. However, when it comes to pricing, there is a clear preference for producers, at the expense of customers and renewables.”
A strong statement made last week when it became known that, on top of the already enormous electricity costs, about 240,000 electricity customers, mainly households, had allegedly recieved bills that were not prepared in accordance with he law, which ofcourse turned out to be to their disadvantage. Some customers paid up to 30% more explained the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC), i.e. The state competition watchdog. It also writes between the lines of a price cartel with hidden and illegal agreements. The 3 compnies assure to have complied with all applicable laws.
High electricity prices in Spain: Parties blame the European Union
And what do the politicians decide to do? Thats right, point fingers at eachother. First, the right and the left started blaming the other for having forgotten about the customers in the so-called liberalisation of the market. When they ran out of arguments towards eachother, they did what they always do, turn to the EU. According to them, the EU would “prohibit political intervention in the electricity market”, the European Electricity Exchanged was already being regulated, the rest was up to the consumers, who would hvae to be more economical with their usage. However Brussels has no problem with supporting weak electricity customers or taxing the profits of corporations, as long as the revenues would exclusivly benefit this sector.
Left in Spain wants statutory maximum prices for nuclear and hydroelectric power
The left-wing coalition of the government headed by Pedro Sanchez (PSOE) are now pressuring. The idea of nationalisation is being raised, but with integration into the EU this idea is more of a fantasy. The two ministers for consumer protection and social rights (Alberto Garzón - IU and Ione Belarra – Podemos) are more concrete. They demand the Ministry of Environment and Energy (Teresa Ribera – PSOE) a profit cap for nuclear and hydroelectric energy. The 3 big companies completly control these types of electricity in spain (100% and 96.2%). The plan is simple; a state regulated maximum price for hydropower energy and a fixed price for nuclear.
“According to our proposal, families would save between 1,5 and 3,2 billion euros a year” says Podemos.
Yearly this is 150€-200€ at best per year and household.
Want to read more?