The third vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, revealed this Tuesday in the Senate that she has asked the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) to investigate the companies that had their wind and photovoltaic plants stopped on the last Friday and Sunday. The regulatory body will have to determine if the actions of the companies that own these plants acted in accordance with the law or if, on the contrary, they are committing an infraction, which would give rise to sanctions.
These plants spent 13 hours on Sunday and three hours on Friday without entering the market because the owner companies presented offers above the matching price of the hourly auction. According to the business sources consulted, the price set was the one that results from the formula included in the shock plan approved by the Government that obliges installations of non-CO₂-emitting technologies (mainly renewable and hydraulic) to return income obtained from selling energy cheap at the price of the most expensive. That is, it does not allow them to participate at a lower price because it is not profitable. The Government has estimated at 2,600 million the deduction of the income that the electricity companies obtain by passing on the gas costs that they do not bear on non-emitting generation plants.
Specifically, on Friday the market price was below the solar and wind cost once the aforementioned formula was applied, which reduces the so-called “extraordinary benefits”. According to this and the gas price forecast for October, the cost of producing wind and solar energy at which they submitted their bids was higher than that of sale in the auctions on Friday and Sunday in a few hours. Specifically, for October it is between 90 and 110 euros MWh, depending on the technology, and the market price between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Friday was 62 euros MWh; between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., of 54.13 euros MWh, and between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., of 89,98 euros per MWh, so they were left out by offering a higher price.
In addition, they denounce that to meet the demand, imports from France and Morocco increased and, according to their accounts, during those three hours it would have been possible to reduce imports by 60% if renewable had been produced. “By recording with a tax the sustainable Spanish renewable energy, wind and solar, which the decree has removed from the sleeve, we import electricity from thermal energy from France, we allow to import electricity from polluting coal from Morocco and we maintain the production of electricity from coal Spanish ”, these sources state.
Ministerial sources, for their part, point out that the stoppage of these plants, the name of whose owners was not revealed, is a measure of pressure before the next validation of Royal Decree-Law 17/2021 of the shock plan that must be submitted to the approval of the Congress of Deputies next week. Likewise, they maintain that a “torticero” use has been made of the formula collected to calculate the reduction. In any case, they maintain that it should be investigated by the CNMC.
In 2015, Competition fined Iberdrola 25 million for manipulating the electricity market price in an action considered to be very serious conduct. The sanction was due to the actions carried out through the increase in the price of the offers of the Duero, Sil and Tajo hydroelectric plants, between November 30, 2013 and December 23, 2013, which forced a change in the system of Cesur auctions.
Confrontation with the PP
Ribera was asked about this question by the senators of the PP Carlos Floriano and Inés Sanz in the session of control to the Government in the Senate. Floriano reproached the minister for causing the wind and photovoltaic plants to stop operating, increasing industrial costs and for Spain having to import nuclear energy: “It is ending the polluter pays principle. Now those who do not pollute also pay ”.
The question served the minister to attack Iberdrola, without citing his name, as well as against the PP. “It has sounded familiar to me, I have heard a company using the same argument a few days ago; precisely, the one that has apparently decided not to offer to the market that wind and solar energy that you are talking about and about which we have asked the CNMC to monitor what is happening “, said the vice president, to emphasize:” It strikes me that you, who were the ones who stopped wind and solar, say something like what you just said. It is a transformation process that we would have liked to find more advanced ”. At the same time, he took the opportunity to ask for the support of all economic actors to contribute to the transition process.
In response to Senator Sanz, Ribera recalled that “a rally bullish on international gas prices unprecedented since the oil crisis ”. After stating that they see it with concern (“that’s why we intervene”), the vice president pointed out that Spain has asked the EU to intervene so that there is a European response.