Focus on Energy Poverty

Town councils and non-governmental energy stakeholders urge government to write-off energy debts of most vulnerable citizens

The councils of Barcelona, Badalona and Sabadell, as well as non-governmental organisations who hosted the second Catalan Conference on Energy Poverty yesterday, such as the Alliance against Energy Poverty and the Catalan Association of Municipalities (ACM), demanded that the Catalan government “oblige” energy companies to sign up to tough clauses in the law against energy poverty. These would enable the writing off of energy debt, for the most economically at-risk, whose backlog of unpaid energy bills could result in their being “indebted for life.” Representatives of the agencies which organised the conference agreed on the need to act in concert, to “change the current model of energy pricing, which is speculative”, and to continue working together to fight “abuse” of energy prices. Organisers asserted that across Catalonia, there are some 400,000 people in a situation of energy poverty at present, and at least 67,000 who have been, at some time in the past. Mayors of the cities present at the conference explained they do not have the required legislative powers to force the writing-off of energy debt, and that it is “the Spanish government which must assume their responsibility to legislate, so that energy is a fundamental right, guaranteed for all citizens.” Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona, told those assembled that due to “poor public management”, the energy model in Spain is “in the hands of oligopolies and in some cases near-monopolies, with abusive pricing and astronomical profits for private companies.” Last year, her council’s energy advice centres received enquiries from over 50,000 citizens in energy poverty, alone.

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