The Spanish government expects parliament to ratify its energy-saving decree in a knife-edge vote later on Thursday, but whether the unpopular measure will help Spain meet its European commitment to cut gas usage by 7% remains to be seen.
Introduced on Aug. 10 as part of the European Union’s push to wean itself off Russian gas, the emergency energy savings range from mandatory temperature limits for air-conditioning or heating to turning off lights in public buildings and shop windows. More measures are likely to be announced in September. To remain in place, they must be approved by parliament, where the ruling leftist coalition lacks a working majority and has to rely on smaller regional parties to pass legislation.
After the main opposition parties ruled out backing measures they see as improvised, inefficient and harmful for the economy, Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said on Wednesday the government had secured just enough votes to get them approved. Touted by the government as showing solidarity with the rest of Europe, the measures have been a hard sell in a country that does not depend on Russian gas and has suffered from brutal summer heatwaves in its worst drought in decades.
“(The measures) imply a saving for those who apply them,” Ribera told broadcaster Tele Cinco on Wednesday. “They also are an inspiration for other European partners.” Ribera has said the measures reduced electricity use by 6% during their first week.
But as the drought has limited hydro-electric output, power plants have burned twice as much gas so far this month than a year ago, pushing Spain’s overall gas usage 4% higher, according to data from gas grid operator Enagas. Marcel Coderch, head of the Barcelona-based Association of Energy Resources Studies, said there was an additional incentive for power utilities to use more gas due to a special cap on the input cost of gas and coal used by power plants.
Brussels authorised the scheme exclusively for Spain and Portugal in June to rein in soaring electricity retail prices in the Iberian peninsula that has little energy interconnection with the rest of Europe. Spain imports most of its gas from the United States and Algeria. The lower price of Spanish electricity has also caused France to import more, Coderch added. Such imports tripled in July, according to Enagas.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)