The Government of Spain will allow Red Eléctrica to carry out temporary power cuts: will it affect homes?

The Government of Spain will give the power to Red Eléctrica de España (REE) to carry out supply cuts in certain cases. It is one of the energy saving measures complementary to Royal Decree-Law 17/2022 and which has been included in the Official State Gazette (BOE), along with benefits such as the reduction in IV on gas from 21 to 5%, which comes into force on 1 October.

The measure of the tax reduction to the raw material whose supply is compromised by Russia for this winter is the most mediatic, but not the only one. Others have passed more on tiptoe, without ignoring their consideration. Like the new mechanism that will allow the REE, the Spanish operator in the electricity market, to interrupt supply when demand exceeds supply. There are conditions however, such as they must notify users at least fifteen minutes in advance and have a maximum duration of three hours.

The Third Vice President of the Government and Minister for the Energy Transition, Teresa Ribera, stated that the Rapid Demand Response Service, as it has been called, will make “the current system cheaper and more efficient”, from 1 November when it will come into force. The disconnections, she points out, will arrive at peaks in demand or due to “specific breakdowns or failures in some area and not necessarily in the entire system.” At this point, some wonder: Can the electricity supply to homes be cut off?

In what cases can the electricity be cut off to a house

As the lines of the new approved measures make explicit, Red Eléctrica de España will only have competence to interrupt the electricity supply to so-called “large consumers”, such as industries or large companies with consumption that exponentially multiplies what it could reach.

Within this category we can frame the Association of Electricity Consumers (ACE), the Association of Large Energy Consumption Companies (AEGE) and the Association of Large Consumers of Electric Energy in the Services Sector, (Granceess), which claim to represent some 20,000 companies that account for 25% of national electricity consumption.

According to the Institute of National Statistics (INE), the food, metallurgical, iron and steel or chemical industries occupy the top positions in terms of energy consumption. If these ‘blackouts’ occur, these companies that suffer will be financially compensated, Ribera also confirmed.

But crucially, for domestic users, Spanish households are outside of any assumption of this type. They cannot cut off the electricity in homes to contribute to energy savings. Its supply is untouchable, except for the following reasons:

Distributor error.

Scheduled outages for maintenance or breakdown that must be notified in advance. State regulations specify that they may not exceed five hours or be repeated more than ten times a year in urban areas.

Defaults. Failure to pay invoices on time gives the company the right to cut off supply to the customer. If the payment is made immediately, there is an obligation to restore the supply within 24 hours.

Incidents in the client’s own installation. Here, the responsibility lies with the owner of the property. Cases such as illegal hook-ups, potential risks or counters or other modified measurement equipment.

There are insurance policies that cover this type of unforeseen event, however, it is recommended to contact the distribution company or a Consumer Service Office as soon as possible. You can also go to the regional delegation of the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

When can’t they cut off the electricity in a home?

If it is a holiday or when customer service is not available.

When your supply depends on feeding some medical equipment, for example, a respirator.

When you are a severely vulnerable consumer who is a beneficiary of the Electricity Social Bonus.

Households in which the owner of the supply is a beneficiary of the Social Bonus and proves that there is a minor under 16 years of age, a dependent person, or a member with a disability in the family unit.