Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We should have known

Electric prices in Spain have just gone up. The overnight, low tarrif has been abolished. Bad news, but no, good news. Poor people with limited electricity supply no longer have to pay the standing charge.

Electricity supply in the countryside in Spain is a bit hit and miss. Pinoso, the town, didn't get electric till 1974 and the supply was very limited. Most houses had supplies of just 1.1kw - enough for the lights but not for much more. Over the years of course the situation improved and the standard now is to have a supply of 5.5kw - still low by UK standards but useable enough.

The cable that supplies power to our house isn't thick enough to carry 5.5kw and our contract is for just 2.2kw. The standing charge for the supply is based on the contracted power so we pay less for our 2.2kw than someone who has a contract for more.

One of the changes with the new increased charges was that people who contracted less than 3.3kw would no longer have any standing charge at all. It looked like the increases were actually going to benefit us. There's a catch though. When we had the house rewired the electricians put in a fuse board that allowed us to draw more power than we were actually contracted for. Effectively we had a beefier power supply than we were paying for. And Iberdrola, our power supplier, isn't stupid. They know there are lots of people like us so one of the conditions of the "no standing charge" is that there has to be a circuit breaker fitted that would limit the amount of power we could draw. As we like tea, and need to boil the water, we wont be getting the circuit breaker fitted. So we'll continue to have to pay the standing charge. Phooey!

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