On June 1, the new electricity tariff system came into effect, which introduced time slots throughout the day based on greater or lesser consumption. The slots were divided by hours in peak periods (between 10 and 14 hours and between 18 and 22 hours), with more expensive prices; flat (from 8 to 10 hours, from 14 to 18 and from 22 to 00 hours) with intermediate prices, and valley (from 0 to 8 hours, and all weekends and holidays) with cheaper prices. The measure affects the 10.5 million households with Voluntary Price contracts for the Small Consumer (PVPC) and not the 17 million that are in the free market.
The Administration’s objective is for consumers to adapt their domestic habits to the cheapest periods in order to rationalize use and support the energy transition. The higher consumption forces to rely on conventional technologies, which are the ones that emit the most carbon dioxide and the most expensive, to cover the demand that the less polluting technologies do not reach. Red Eléctrica points out that about 4,000 MW are needed, which is equivalent to 10 400 MW combined cycle plants or four 1,000 MW nuclear plants, to serve the 300 peak hours or those with the highest consumption per year.
However, the reasoning given by the Government and the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) did not serve for consumer associations, unions and political parties (including the government partner, United We Can) immediately claim that it should be reviewed the scheme with the extension of the cheapest periods. Both the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the CNMC argued that it was too early to decide on changes and that it was necessary to wait until a reasonable time had passed to analyze this possibility.
Now, with a scarce week of the new system being two months old, the conclusion is that the consumer is adjusting to the new schedules; but still with very slight variations. According to data provided by Repsol’s Research Service for the month of June, during the days with change of sections (that is, not counting weekends and holidays) there was an increase of up to just over 2% in off-peak hours and a drop that exceeds 1% and sometimes reaches 2% at peak times, which shows this small change in habits.
Heating and air conditioning
These data do not discriminate between the PVPC and the free market or industrial and domestic consumption, so it could be deduced that the PVPC has a greater displacement curve, as estimated by the head of the aforementioned department, Antonio Merino, who wonders how much of the consumption in the future it will be subject to flexible hours: if they include, for example, heat pump heating in winter or air conditioning in summer.
In the opinion of the CNMC and experts from companies and other institutions, it is still too early to reach conclusions and, above all, to decide whether to extend the valley or middle periods. The regulatory body maintains that they will be adjusted as consumption adapts and the hours in which it is greater are downloaded, but there are still months to find out.
The sources consulted add that the coincidence of the implementation of the new system with the strong rises that the light has experienced due to external factors makes it difficult to measure its impact. In this sense, they emphasize that you only have to look at the data from other European countries, affected like Spain by the increase in the price of natural gas and the rights of CO2 emission rights. In any case, the hodgepodge that has been assembled has allowed trading companies to launch offers for consumers to move from the regulated market to the free market with the message that this way they will not have surprises.
Demand ranges according to the working day, the closing of shops during noon and the highest occupation of homes in the late hours of the day and that is difficult to change. To facilitate consumer information, the CNMC has announced that all electricity bills issued as of August 31 must include a QR code that will lead to the CNMC’s Energy Offers Comparator. This is a novelty that all electricity bills will have to include, regardless of whether they are issued by traders with a tariff on the regulated or free market as a result of the entry of the three billing periods.
They admit to changing their habits, according to a survey
According to a survey by the German firm Appinio of 1,000 people aged 18 to 65 published this week, 74% say their habits change. Of these, 55% try to reduce consumption at peak times and 19% consume mostly during flat or valley hours. 51% consider that the hours in which electricity is consumed the most in their home are from 10 to 14 and from 18 to 22 on weekdays, which coincides with the most expensive hours.
According to the responses, doing the laundry or putting the dishwasher on at night or on the weekend (70%) is the main change, followed by charging electronic devices at night (44%), checking or changing the contracted power (15 %) or use a timer to set the preferred time bands (14%).
By age group, the change in habits is higher in young people aged 18 to 24, who are more likely to charge their devices at night (61%, 17% more than the average), while 25% of Adults between 55 and 65 years of age have not changed their consumption habits (11% more than the average).
Another piece of data from the survey is that 70% consider that the new rates do not serve to reduce the environmental impact derived from electricity consumption in homes and 65% agree that the objective of the new rates is not to make the receipt of the light is fairer and that you can save on what you pay for your electricity. Given this, up to 70% of Spaniards would be willing to install solar panels to reduce costs on the bill.
Demand for household appliances
The changes also affect the appliance trade. According to Carlos Moreno-Figueroa, secretary general of the employers’ association of electrical appliances CECE, in recent weeks there has been greater concern on the part of consumers. “It is more and more frequent that they arrive at the stores asking for the appliances that save the most on the receipt, since household appliances can account for up to 70% of the monthly electricity consumption,” he reports.
According to Moreno-Figueroa, household appliances offer three possibilities to save electricity. On the one hand, choose appliances with high energy efficiency, which, although their cost is higher than others with higher consumption, the savings they achieve allow them to amortize this differential in a short time (a refrigerator can save up to 150 euros per month and 60 euros a washing machine or dishwasher compared to a conventional appliance). “That is why low-consumption products are increasingly in demand by consumers,” he explains.
Another option is the products with delayed programming, which allow you to schedule the start-up to take advantage of the lower rates during the night. The appliance will work automatically in the set period. And finally, the ECO programs. Despite being longer cycles, they save significantly compared to short programs. Its use can save about 20%. “The combination of these three solutions can cut electricity consumption in half,” he says.