The City Council calls for the repeal of the Spanish State's decree on energy self-consumption

22/10/2015 - 13:45 h

Energy. The City Council sees self-consumption and self-production as essential tools for fighting against energy poverty and as a measure for reducing climate change.

The Royal Decree goes against the municipal government’s approach, which sees self-consumption and self-production as essential tools for fighting against energy poverty and supports energy-efficiency technologies as another way of guaranteeing the right to energy. The municipal declaration states that, under this decree, “the central government is limiting the public’s right to harness, transform and use the energy contained in biospheric fluxes, in particular the energy that comes from the sun”.

The Commission for Ecology, Urban Planning and Mobility presented an Institutional Declaration Requesting the Repeal of Royal Decree 900/2015, yesterday, 9 October, which regulates the administrative, technical and financial terms and conditions for supplying and producing electricity for self-consumption.

The institutional declaration, which was moved by Barcelona En Comú with a broad consensus among the City Council majority, and signed by all the party groups except the Partido Popular, states that, under this decree “the central government is limiting the public’s right to harness, transform and use the energy contained in biospheric fluxes, in particular the energy that comes from the sun”. For that reason, Barcelona City Council is offering to take part in drawing up a draft regulation that respects precisely this public right.

The declaration concludes with a Council undertaking “to contribute actively towards the decree’s repeal and create with maximum urgency a set of regulations in favour of developing the self-production and direct use of energy, without any kind of obstacle, to enable society as a whole to enjoy the financial, ecological and social benefits associated with this approach to obtaining energy”.

The Royal Decree goes against the approach of the municipal government, which sees self-consumption and self-production as essential tools for fighting against energy poverty and supports energy-efficiency technologies as another way of guaranteeing the right to energy. The government team has therefore presented the National Commission for Markets and Competition with a series of considerations that oppose the central government’s proposal.

At the same time, the Royal Decree prevents compliance with the emission-reduction targets set for reducing climate change, the very ones that will be dealt with this coming December in Paris at the 21st UN Climate Change Conference, which will consider the need for increasing the production and marketing of energies from renewable sources to prevent the rapid rise of temperatures on our planet.

Self-production of energy is a civic right and a key tool when it comes to paving the way for the transition to an energy system based 100% on renewable energies, which allow us to face up to the reality of climate change.

A brake on stimulating self-consumption

The municipal government believes that the decree incorporates administrative, financial and technical barriers that considerably limit this stimulus.

As regards administrative barriers, the document points out that the Decree requires self-consumers to request a connection to the electricity grid, whether or not they contribute to it, while the financial barriers relate to an energy “toll” that consumers will have to pay, even if they don’t use energy from the grid. Insult is then added to injury by the fact that this toll, which has to be paid for electricity that is neither consumed nor asked for, can be higher than the toll applied to the energy that has been requested.

Nor are the Spanish State’s regulations compatible with customers on benefits, so it prevents self-consumption from being a tool against energy poverty.

As for the technical side, the ban on using batteries and accumulation systems represents a further obstacle to implementing the new international energy model that promotes distributed generation supplemented by energy accumulation.

The Royal Decree also removes any incentive for distributed generation, especially in the solar-panel sector, as a result of the creation of new tolls and taxes. Spain’s regulations are in stark contrast to those of other countries more inclined to recognise the advantages that come with using distributed technologies.

Interference in the jurisdiction of the City Council and Spain’s regions

The Decree is an attack on the authority of the City Council and Spain’s autonomous communities promoting self-consumption. The City Council shows its commitment to energy efficiency through its Byelaw on the Environment and the Municipal Charter, and through its pledge to develop a municipal energy operator for the full promotion of local renewable-energy generation.

On top of that, under the Royal Decree, self-consumption is presented as a commercial model, a vision far removed from the essence of self-consumption. Self-consumption has always been regarded as a way of cutting costs, clearly in line with efficiency and sustainability. It is not aimed at maximising production for the sake of profit, but rather at producing in order to meet demand.

But the central government’s regulation eliminates the concept of net balance based on kWh exchanges between generation facilities and the electricity system. The Decree rules out such a possibility and proposes a system where self-consumers can either sell their surpluses within the production market and profit from that  – so commercialising an activity that has no commercial aims – or hand over their surpluses for free, without receiving anything in exchange, thereby discouraging any form of investment.

Lastly, the City Council firmly believes that the self-consumption model provided for under the Royal Decree has been prepared from a totally unilateral perspective, without taking account of the sector’s players or civil society. It is therefore a regulatory initiative that goes against the principles of Act 19/2013 on Transparency, Access to Public Information and Good Government.

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The City Council rejects the Spanish State’s decree regulating self-consumption