The much commented and ridiculed Sun Tax has been abolished in a new law ´Urgent Measures for the Energetic Transition and Protection of Consumers , voted on last Friday, 5th of October. The Minister for the Ecological Transition even referred to it as ´absurd´. The law comes into force today, the 8th of October 2018.
The new Decree defines for the first time what is considered to be ´Autoconsumo´ and annuls the tax that those with Autoconsumo installations were supposed to pay. Moreover the new law promotes ´shared Autoconsumo´, so an installation to be used by a group of owners, like Communities, by reducing the burocratic requisites to be met. No obligation to register installations under 100 kW as energy producers, but there will be a ´registro de autoconsumo´ access to which will be free, and telematically.
New in this Decree is the ´Bono Social Térmico´, to cover the costs for heating, hot water and cooking for vulnerable families who are already in receipt of the regular Bono Social. Depending on the grade of vulnerability and the wintertemperatures in the area where they live, one annual payment, in the first trimestre of the year, for those who were registered for the Bono Social on the 31st of December of the previous year. Financed by the central government, but Autonomous Governments can add onto it, from their own budgets, if they so desire. Minimum of 25 euros, if the budget allows for that, and those in severely vulnerable situations or in risk of social exclusion will receive 60% more than those in basic vulnerable situations. The Junta or Xunta of each Autonomous Region will get a pro rata part of the central ´pot´, based on the amount of consumers registered for the Bono Social in their region. They in turn will take charge of payment to the consumers.
The existing ´Bono Social´ is now also available to one-parent families (amplified income limites for those with a woman at the head – 0,5 higher than IPREM) and those in dependent situations, grades 3 and 2.
Protective measures for consumers in the most vulnerable situtations, like the prohibition to cut off electricity in households that are in arrears with their electricity bills, already in receipt of the Bono Social and where minor(s) under the age of 16 live, or a disabled person (at least 33% accredited disability), or someone in a dependent situation, accredited grades 3 and 2. Or where Social Services takes charge of at least 50% of the electricity bill. All these situations accredited by Social Services.
Those already on the Bono Social before a new law that regulates it came into force in October 2017, needed to renew before October 8th this year. This window has been amplified to the 31st of December. Those that renew after the 8th of October and meet the requisites, will continue to receive the discounts.
We expect that within the next couple of days, the electricity companies will have updated the information on their websites.
This new law also obliges the electricity suppliers to adapt the contracted ´potencia´ to the actual usage, on the invoices, supposedly leading to a general saving. For those not on the variable tariff that charges the electricity consumed at different times of the day at varying costs, they should include the information on the total costs of the consumed energy as if they were, so they can make an informed decision to change over to this tariff as it´s considered to be the most cost efficient, according to experts.
As a general measure, to help with electricity costs during the winter, for 6 months, the tax on the generation of electricity will be suspended and brought back from 7% to almost zero.
Lastly, the government will sanction the companies that process and finance the bono social more heavily, when they delay processing the applications, or add unjustified conditions.
The Spanish consumer organisations are not happy with this new law, they say it´s just a publicity campaign and that the presented 25% saving the Bono Social would bring to vulnerable consumers, is in fact just 11% for the average consumer, not even enough to cover the increases in electricity costs over the year, at 16% for now.
The new law also prohibits electricity and gas companies to visit consumers´ homes to try and sell contracts, unless explicitly invited.
Disclaimer: this is a summary of highlights from the new law that we think of interest to our members, it does not pretend to be complete.
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