Since the approval of Act 24/2015 on energy poverty, companies have been prevented from cutting off people’s electricity, water or gas supplies in Barcelona in more than 63,000 cases. Before cutting off services, utility companies are obliged to request a preceptive report from municipal social service to determine if the family in question is at risk of vulnerability. The full council meeting in September approved an institutional declaration urging the electricity company Endesa to write off the complete debt of families at risk of energy poverty.
Following September’s full council meeting, the municipal groups BComú, ERC, PSC, JxCat and the PP read out an institutional declaration, along with representatives from entities making up the Alliance against Energy Poverty, urging water, gas and electricity distributors to comply with Act 24/2015 and write off the entire debt generated by families at risk of energy poverty.
Before utility companies can cut off any household’s gas, water or electricity supply, Catalonia’s Act 24/2015 on energy poverty obliges them to seek a preceptive report from municipal social services to establish if the family is at risk. If they fail to do this and cut off utility services to vulnerable households, administrations such as Barcelona City Council will activate social and legal measures to defend people’s energy rights.
Barcelona City Council has so far completed nine proceedings to penalise companies supplying water, gas or electricity, with fines of 30,000 euros each. A further 19 proceedings are under way. The law sets out fines of between 10,001 and 100,000 euros for serious infringements.
Services to defend energy rights
Municipal services have put energy poverty detection protocols in place in recent years, as has the Barcelona Fire Service. Eleven energy advice points have also been opened to offer personalised support to cut water, gas and water bills, optimise services, improve household energy efficiency and handle matters with supply companies. The energy advice points have prevented services from being cut off in more than 37,240 instances since 2017.
People unable to pay their water, gas or electricity bills, as well as those who need help dealing with companies, can approach the energy advice point nearest their home.