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By Gloria Rodríguez-Pina
After some adjustments based on the report of the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) and the approval of the Council of State, the Government has approved the regulation that for organizations like Greenpeace supposes a "clear policy of criminalization of renewable energies, energy savings and efficiency ".
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO CHARGE FOR GENERATING YOUR OWN ENERGY?
The consumer who has plates installed and generates his own electricity is usually connected to the grid, from which he receives extra energy to cover his needs -it is not always sunny and almost never what is produced is enough-, and which in turn it pours out the energy it does not consume.
For the Minister of Industry, José Manuel Soria, "what it is about is to tell the consumer that self-consumption is very good, but when they are going to use the network that we all pay for, they also have to contribute because, if not, others we would be paying a part of our own consumption ". His department believes that exempting the payment of a backup toll would be a subsidy at the expense of other consumers. In the press conference after the Council of Ministers, Soria has insisted that self-consumers must pay transport and distribution tolls "to the extent that they use" the system and contribute "like any other consumer" to other costs.
Thus put it seems incontestable, and no one denies it, but when you go into the detail, things change, as Mario Sánchez-Herrero, coordinator of the social economy company Ecooo points out: "The logical thing is that these consumers pay for this support when and only at those times when they need to use the grid, and not, as established in the recently approved regulation, at times when they are not consuming from the grid, that is, at those times when photovoltaic panels They're working".
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
In the case of residential consumers, approximately 9 euros plus VAT per year per kW of power will be charged for each panel they have at home. The drawback for these types of consumers, Sánchez-Herrero emphasizes, is not so much the toll, but rather that they do not have any type of return for the energy they produce and dump into the network. "Maybe you give 70% of all the energy your installation produces to the electric company, which by the way, is going to sell it to your neighbor for 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh)".
In the largest facilities, industrial ones, consumers will pay two tolls. Those 9 euros plus VAT for each kW of power of the panels plus a variable one associated with the cost of energy. "It is the one that really impacts" according to the Ecooo expert, and it will be about 5 cents for each kWh that they produce and consume.
Self-consumers in the Canary and Balearic Islands will be exempt from the toll.
WHO IS FAVORED BY THIS MEASURE?
Industry defends that the Royal Decree aims to guarantee the economic and financial stability of the system and prevent all consumers from "subsidizing" self-consumption - it calls it, in fact, "solidarity toll" -. When the Government speaks of "the system", organizations like Ecooo listen to "the income statement of the large electricity companies."
Facua, the organization for the defense of consumer rights, also denounces that the Executive imposes "the interests of the large electricity companies over those of the consumers, whom it harms economically." It also remembers that "the system that it perpetuates has caused increases in electricity for homes of 74.93% in the last ten years".
Greenpeace affirms that with this measure and others that it has approved "the Government renders vassalage to the electricity oligopoly."
WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT SAY THAT SELF-CONSUMPTION IS INSOLIDARY?
According to the Executive, by reducing their consumption, those who self-produce their energy forces those who do not have these facilities to assume a greater part of the system's costs. He also points out that putting up panels can cost about 5,000-6,000 euros, and therefore it is something for the rich that accentuates inequality.
In Ecooo they dismantle these two arguments. First, they defend the benefits of self-consumption for the common good, "incompatible with the idea of unsolidarity", such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, imports of fossil fuels, improving the balance of payments, and employment. Second, they affirm that with a regulation of self-consumption similar to the one that is being approved in the rest of the world that encourages aid for the acquisition and installation of equipment, the electricity from the panels is significantly cheaper than what we currently pay in our bills . Self-consumption would in fact be a tool against energy poverty and inequality, according to this perspective.
WHY WOULD THE GOVERNMENT WANT TO FAVOR ENERGY COMPANIES?
Sánchez-Herrero recalls - "although it may sound demagogic and easy" - that revolving doors, when a politician goes from public to private, are not limited to the best-known cases of the highest positions, such as the relationship of the former president of the Felipe González Government with Gas Natural Fenosa, or José María Aznar with Endesa, but there is a whole string of middle management positions that count on those doors to keep turning.
But in addition, he points out, the Government defends that "important things, such as energy supply, must be taken care of by large companies, and we need great Spanish champions to have weight in the world and for our economy to be viable. That happens by ensuring that in a captive market, they have sufficient income so that they do not lose their footing in the fierce competition they have with similar companies in the rest of the world. Defend them whatever it takes at whatever cost. "
HOW MUCH CAN ELECTRICIANS TAKE OUT OF THE TOLL?
"The problem with which the electricity companies are is that they overinvested in combined cycle plants, production plants that use gas to produce electricity. These plants, due to the crisis, are working 800-1,000 hours a year, when they would have to be 5,000-6,000 hours. If self-consumption were allowed with reasonable regulations, not because it favors it but does not harm it, instead of working 800 hours they would work 100, and therefore it would be even more difficult for them to recover from the huge investments what they did ", explains the coordinator of Ecooo.
HOW IS IT DONE IN OTHER COUNTRIES?
As the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (Unef) recalls, which groups some 300 companies in the sector, Spain, where precisely the presence of the sun invites us to promote this type of energy, is the only country in which a regulation is being prepared "so that do not develop "self-consumption.
In Portugal, for example, "the development of self-consumption of up to 1MW is allowed without any type of toll and the net balance is made by paying the price of the surplus energy at 90% of its market price", as stated The country.
From outside this step of the Government is not understood. Or if. Forbes magazine titled two years ago, when the Government unveiled its plans: Without ideas and in debt, Spain contemplates taxing the sun.EcoPortal.net