I mentioned that one of the local political parties "employs" a chap to help the Brit community. Today he sent around information about legislation that says we need to fit a limiting device to the electric supply. Apparently this limiting device was supposed to be installed by January 2010 with the power companies having an obligation to send a letter informing us of that responsibility. Obviously we haven't received the letter but I suppose it will be on its way soon.
I was vaguely aware of the legislation from some mumblings on the letters pages of the newspapers and from a conversation in a Spanish class but until the information today I hadn't checked the detail.
Lots of Spanish houses have really miserable power supplies by UK standards. Our house, for instance has a contracted supply of about 2.2kw which means that the circuit breakers should pop when we plug in the 3kw electric kettle. They don't because when we moved into the place we had it rewired and the sparks put in a board that would deal with about 5.5kw.
The main problem that we have is that the wire that brings power to the house is thin - it simply can't carry more power. The combination of the thin cable and bigger board means that we can run more than we are supposed to but that lights dim, kettles run slowly etc when we try draw more power than the cable can provide.
When we first moved in I tried to get the power company to upgrade the supply but the maximum we could have was 3.3kw. I talked to a Spanish electrician and his advice was to leave well alone. If we wanted a decent supply we would have to get the power company to beef up the supply and we were talking thousands of euros.
What's happening now is that the new device will limit us to the power we're contracted for. Try to draw more and the circuits breaker will pop. If we don't get the device fitted the bill will start to carry a penalty of around 15€ per month. We also probably need to get a certificate to say that our power supply is safe as the original certificate (which I've never seen) is obviously out of date because we had the wiring installation changed.
This could all get a bit sticky. Do as we should and we end up with stone age electricity. Do nothing and the fines will start to add up. Try to sort it out properly and it will certainly costs hundreds and maybe thousands.