Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is personal view of Spain and Spanish life as seen by a Briton living in a small village in Alicante province.
The other tabs link to similar blogs when I have lived in other places. The TIM magazine is an English language magazine I write articles for.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Power struggles

Anyone who has followed this blog for any time will know that we have a piddling electrical supply of just 2.2 kW or some 10 amps. Not technically sufficient to run the kettle and the iron at the same time. Nonetheless because of the tolerances of the system we get by.

Things change though and we recently got a letter to say that our power supplier, Iberdrola, is on the verge of fitting a smart meter with a built in cut-out. We decided that we couldn't be sure that more modern kit would be as elastic as our ancient equipment so I started an email correspondence with Iberdrola to see if we could up the power.

The last time I asked I was told that 3.45kW was as high as we could go. This time, because Iberdrola replaced the supply cables a little while ago, we were told that we could have up to 15kW. There was a snag though. The boletín, the thing that shows that we have wiring to such and such a standard, would only allow us to have 3.45kW unless we got an electrician to test and certificate the system for more.

There's a lot of fuss in Spain about the price of electricity and one way to reduce costs is to reduce the power contracted. That's because the standing charges are a big component of the bill. Consequently there are lots of ready reckoner type websites to tell you how to calculate how much power you need to contract. I tried one and it said we needed 3.75kW, another two gave very similar results. I don't think it's true myself but people who know better than me say it's enough. Maybe it's to do with the tolerance of the system. So I checked with Iberdrola, If we went to 3.45kW and it wasn't enough could we still go up to more kilowatts if we got the appropriate certificates. The answer was yes.

We're now on about email number six or seven by the time I finally say yes to go ahead. This time Iberdrola, and the emails have become much more chatty by now, come back and point out that we will lose the Social Bonus. This is an automatic 25% reduction on the total bill because we contract so little power. I know, I tell them, go ahead anyway. It hurt to send that email I can tell you.

And today, probably now on email number 10 or 11 Iberdrola come back and say that even to go to 3.45kW we'll need to get a new boletín. I've reminded them that they said we were OK with that at the start of the process.

A couple of days later and Iberdrola say whoops! Yes we can have 3.45kW without any paper formalities.

And, just to finish it off on the 5th July, about a week after I wrote the bulk of this, I got a call out of the blue from the Iberdrola man who was five minutes away. He fitted one of the new intelligent meters, checked that the fuses were OK and left us with the increased power supply. So far the circuit breakers haven't popped.

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