July 4, 2019 - 10:37

Social services. A court has fined Endesa for cutting off the electricity supply of a vulnerable family.

An administrative court in Barcelona has given the electricity supply company Endesa a fine of 10,001 euros for cutting off a vulnerable family without requesting a report from social services to determine if the family was at risk of residential exclusion. This is the first legal case Barcelona City Council has won out of the 22 cases brought for non-compliance with Act 24/2015 on energy poverty.

Catalonia’s Act 24/2015 on energy poverty obliges utility companies to request a report from municipal social services before cutting off power, water or gas supplies. The process is designed for companies to determine if families are at risk of vulnerability.

The court condemned the electricity company Endesa Energía XXI, SLU to pay 10,001 euros to Barcelona City Council for seriously breaching the law. This is the first of the cases brought by the City Council in the last few years to end up with a fine being imposed. The law states that serious breaches may result in fines ranging from 10,001 to 100,000 euros.

Barcelona City Council currently has nine firm cases which it has brought against water, electricity and gas supply companies, with fines of 30,000 euros in each case, as well as a further 19 proceedings in the pipeline. Legal proceedings are part of a series of measures being used by the City Council to defend the energy rights of city residents.

Services to protect energy rights

In recent years municipal services have rolled out energy poverty detection protocols, also in conjunction with the Barcelona Fire Service. Eleven energy advice points have been set up, offering personalised support to help people reduce energy costs, optimise services, improve energy efficiency at home and deal with utility companies.

Since opening in January 2017, energy advice points have helped nearly 88,000 people, prevented utilities being cut off in nearly 32,500 cases and generated savings of 195,000 euros on people’s bills.

People who can’t afford to pay their water, gas or electricity bills, as well as others who need guidance or help with procedures, can approach their nearest energy advice point for help.