Electricity in Spain has traditionally been in a few private hands, and those private hands have managed to obtain the blessings from politician belonging to the highest atmosphere of the Spanish political live to do whatever they feel like.
These politicians once retired have attained jobs as advisors of the main electrical companies earning huge salaries for the favours which they have endowed to the electrical companies. These fiddling is colloquially known as “The revolving doors”.
However, several projects serve as an example of how a new energy model is emerging, in which this basic service acquires a democratic and participatory character. I will explain here four examples that have located on internet: The first one that caught my attention is a marketing company and an associations of neighbours that adds the figure of 88,417 contracts (Som Energia), the first wind turbine promoted by ordinary citizens (Viure de l'Aire del Cel), a municipal public company of Barcelona and the first shared self-consumption project (Hello, Luz). These are some samples of how citizen participation in energy is advancing rapidly in Spain.
Projects initiatives that point towards a new energy transition
One of the most surprising successes is that of Som Energia (54,168 members and 88,417 contracts: data from December 31st of 2018), a renewable energy marketing and production association that has connected with the wishes of many citizens to 'escape' from the claws of the large electric companies and contribute to the promotion of clean sources.
Its ultimate goal is to produce clean energy equivalent to 100% of the consumption of its cooperative members (now around 7%).
"We could not even imagine that a project like this, in only 7 years, was going to gather more than 54,000 partners and more than 88,000 contracts, mainly because there were neither precedents nor previous experiences", comments Marc Roselló, director from Som Energia.
The marketer grows at the rate of about 150 new members and 300 contracts a week (many members have more than one house).
Reasons for the jump
And what has moved all these citizens to make the leap to this association?
The desire to develop renewable energy, the possibility of escaping from the big electricity companies and good references obtained through word of mouth explains why many people have made the decision; known among themselves as “the jump”.
"But if they decide to change company, it's mainly to feel better treated," says Roselló.
The price, key issue
And the price of electricity? Does it cost to change to the association? Apparently their prices are lower than that obtained from the main electric companies.
There are no opaque maintenance contracts, no false discounts ... The invoice is just for the electricity used by each member. Som Energia (which has already invested 11 million in renewable sources) develops various lines of action. On the one hand, it is a marketing company, like any other company (with the difference, of course, that it does not have a board of directors to give shelter to influential politicians). Participation is guaranteed by the annual meetings of members.
Secondly, it is a company of renewable energy, with a broad portfolio of renewable installations owned, and that includes eight photovoltaic plants in operation (in Catalonia, Valencia and Andalusia), as well as a biogas plant and a mini hydroelectric power station in Valladolid.
Members who wish to do so make periodic contributions to the company's capital stock to invest in these plants (Alcolea del Río, Lora ..).
To finance them, the association has had neither premiums nor subsidies; The sale of electricity to the grid allows a yield of 1.75% per year.
Generation of kWh
And, in third place, you can participate in clean production through the Generation kWh project.
Through it, the partner leaves interest-free money for 25 years to the cooperative, which returns a part of that money each year, with the advantage that thanks to the project the electricity produced is obtained at cost price.
This mode allows you to acquire electricity at a price much lower than the market price (even paying, for the costs of maintenance, amortization etc.).
It's like having a community garden with tomatoes, in which each one takes the tomatoes depending on what they put in; this way it comes cheaper than going to the supermarket to buy it.
Generating a kWh of electricity costs 0.11 cents per kWh, while the final customer usually pays more than 0.13 cents / kWh.
"We recommend making an investment that covers 70% of annual consumption," adds Roselló.
In a few years, and taking into account that it is expected that there will be greater energy efficiency and lower consumption, it would be possible to buy electricity equivalent to 100% of consumption.