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Electricity

Spain - Electricity


Spanish electricity supply (suministra de energia electrica) runs on 220 volts AC in most areas, however there are still parts of the country that run on 110 volts. It is also not uncommon to find that one house can have both supplies, even to the same room. Any homes newly built will have the 220 volt supply.

The largest electricity company in Spain is Grupo Endesa although there is the option to choose several smaller companies as your electricity supplier including Iberdrola, Hidrocantábrico and Union Fenosa. However, it must be noted that in some areas only one electricity supplier (Endesa) is available. The Endesa Group can be known under several names depending on which area you will be settling into. In Andalusia the company is known as Sevillana Endesa and in Catalonia they are known as Fesca. Both the Canary Islands and the Balearics have their own Endesa groups too. They are known as Unelco in the Canaries and Gesa in the Balearics.

Regular power cuts can be expected if you decide to move to Spain. The power cuts (apagon) can be caused by anything from routine maintenance which may mean a loss of power for short periods of time, or extreme weather conditions which could mean being without power for several days or more. Most remote areas in Spain to not have access to mains electric at all and therefore a generator will be needed. Even those who are moving to a main town and who will need electricity to run their business will find that purchasing a generator is a very wise option as most power cuts will happen without warning unless it is due to routine maintenance. Some areas have their water supplied via an electric pump which can mean during a power cut the water supply will also be affected. If your new home has water supplied in this way then a generator (generador) is a necessity.

Some properties also have a low power rating to their home which means that using several appliances at once can cause the power supply to trip constantly. The power supply company for your area can solve this issue by upgrading the power supply to the home. Increasing the power supply will also mean higher utility bills. Most homes are kept very low for this reason and those that are using the properties solely for holiday use will often have a supply of just 3.3Kw, sometimes lower. This helps to keep running costs low.

Older homes (over 20 years old) may not have wiring that is up to current standards. If this is the case a qualified electrician (electricista) will be needed to inspect the property and issue a certificate to show that the house does meet safety standards. Electrical installations and new meters can take a long while to complete and so it should be arranged well in advance of moving into the property.

Some electrical appliances are supplied with a 110/220 volt switch; this means there is no need for a converter or transformer in order to use them safely on the Spanish power supply. However, if your appliances do not have this then a converter will be necessary. In many instances it would work out easier to buy new appliances once you have moved into your new home, although this is not practical for some people.

Bulbs are usually only available in screw versions (also known as an Edison connection) however; many lamps from the UK (for example) require bulbs that have a bayonet fixing. In this instance it is an idea to bring a supply of bayonet bulbs with you as bayonet bulbs are rare to find in Spain.

Spanish electricity prices have been one of the cheapest in Europe. It is one of the things that have appealed to so many expats over the years. However, prices have been on the increase in recent years and are set to continue to rise due to taxes relating to emissions of gases. Each company in Spain will offer differing rates and these will also vary depending on your home’s power rating. Up to 15kw the tariff is usually 2.0 with a power rating of over 15Kw then the rate rises to approximately 3.0. The tariff is what is used to calculate your standing charges which are normally billed bimonthly.

Your Spanish electricity bills (recibo de la luz) are calculated by multiplying the power rating by the tariff then multiplying that by the standing charge (cuota fija) rate per Kw. For example, if your property has a power rating of 4.4Kw then the charge would be 4.4 x 2.0 x €1.53. This is the rate used currently by one of the electricity companies. That means the total standing charge would be €13.64. Any electricity used on top of this would be in addition to this standing charge. This is also charged if no electricity has been used. It is possible to cut costs by running appliances on the night tariff. This means heating water overnight, and setting the washing machine or dishwasher onto a timer so that they operate through the night. This can save over 50% on the average electricity bill. The night tariff is between the hours of 11pm and 7am, although this may vary depending on which electricity company you are using.

Bills are issued bimonthly after the meter (contador de luz) has been read. However, the electricity companies can also estimate the bill which means that every other bill you receive may be estimated. The electricity bill you receive should show whether it is an estimate or not. It is possible to pay your bills via direct debit (debito automatico), this is ideal for those who only use the home for holidays and it remains unoccupied for most of the year. However if you are living in Spain permanently you can pay your bill in a variety of ways including at the post office, certain banks or directly with the electricity company. Paying in cash at a bank or post office may incur a very small additional charge.

To have a mains electricity supply to your home you must have a contract with one of the electricity companies (compania de luz). For a new build home the electrician responsible for the wiring in the home should supply a connection certificate which needs to be officially stamped before the connection can be made. To get connected you will need to supply several documents to the electricity company. This includes a passport for some official form of identification, a copy of the last electricity bill, rental agreement (if applicable) if the house is owned by yourselves then details from the property deeds will be needed and bank account details to set up the standing order. To cancel the contract you can simply do this in writing and the service will be terminated.


Useful Resources

Endesa
www.endesaonline.com
Tel: +34 902 509 509

Hidrocantabrico
www.h-c.es
Tel: +34 902 860 860

Iberdrola
www.iberdrola.com
Tel: + 34 901 202 020

Union Fenosa
www.unionfenosa.es
Tel: + 34 901 404 040


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