March 29, 2021 - 18:11

City Council. The accumulated debts of thousands of vulnerable families get written off and an agreement is reached to guarantee energy rights.

More progress towards guaranteeing energy rights for people. Together with the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona Metropolitan Area and the provincial councils, an agreement has been signed with the power company Endesa to write off the debt accumulated by vulnerable families and regulate the approach to energy poverty.

The Government of Catalonia has actually signed the agreement with the electricity company to write off the debt accumulated by 35,000 vulnerable families between 2015 and 2020. At the same time, an agreement has been signed to regulate the cost of energy poverty generated from 1 January 2021, with the company to bear 50%.

The two agreements represent a step forward in guaranteeing people’s energy rights and the application of Act 24/2015, whereby a residential exclusion report makes cutting off the electricity of any vulnerable household wrongful and subject to a fine.

According to Endesa, the accumulated debt for the period from when the law was passed in 2015 and up to 31 December 2020 amounts to 38,793,524 euros. Of this, the debt generated through bills corresponding to 2019 and 2020 is 21,316,964 euros.

Agreement to write off the debts of vulnerable families

The electricity company will bear the full cost of the debt of vulnerable households for the period from when Act 24/2015 became law (6 August 2015) to 31 December 2018.

The debt for 2019 and 2020 will be shared, with the signatory administrations bearing 50% of the cost (Catalan government to bear 75% and supralocal administrations to bear 25%).

Agreement to regulate energy poverty debt

Points set out be the agreement include:

  • Gas and electricity companies to be jointly responsible for costs resulting from addressing, preventing and acting on energy poverty.
  • Creation of a solidarity support fund, with power companies to finance at least 50% and the Government of Catalonia to finance a maximum of 50%.
  • Inter-administration agreement on sharing the part corresponding to the administrations (Catalan government 75% and local administrations 25%).
  • Before cutting any household off, the power company must request a report from municipal social services. In this case, supply must be guaranteed, and the necessary established subsidies applied.
  • Endesa undertakes to guarantee the right to urgent basic access to electricity and gas supplies through the installation of a temporary meter.
  • Other commitments from supply companies include:
    • Active promotion of social discounts and their adaptation to the socio-economic situation in Catalonia.
    • Offering people at risk of residential exclusion a quality service which ensures compliance with the law and the adaptation of the service to their needs and abilities.
    • Free energy audits to improve energy efficiency in households with vulnerable people.
    • Offering clear and complete user information on consumption and contracted power ratings.

The fight against energy poverty in Barcelona

The city’s Energy Advice Points (PAE) were set up in 2016 in an effort to guarantee the application of Act 24/2015 and protect people’s energy rights. Since then, they have helped over 90,000 families and halted processes to cut people’s basic energy supply off in 65,000 cases in the city. Thanks to the agreement signed, 7,300 families will have their existing debt written off, accounting for over 6 million euros in total.