World, Europe

Spain’s electricity prices soar amid cold snap

Minister for consumption says he has requested investigation into energy market ‘irregularities’

Alyssa McMurtry   | 08.01.2021
Spain’s electricity prices soar amid cold snap

OVIEDO, Spain

As temperatures plummeted across Spain, leaving much of the country blanketed with snow on Friday, the price of electricity reached historic highs.

On Friday, the price of electricity per megawatt hour soared to nearly €95 ($116). That’s up 123% from prices last week and nearly three times higher than the 2020 average.

Spain’s Minister for Consumption Alberto Garzon said he has asked the country’s regulatory body to investigate if there were any irregularities in the energy market.

“We are searching for definitive solutions for an energy rate that has regulated and protects especially the most vulnerable families,” said Garzon on Twitter.

According to calculations by Catalan daily La Vanguardia, this surge in prices will translate to an average increase of 27% in the average user’s electricity bill.

Meanwhile on Friday, Spain’s Environment Ministry pointed to several factors that have driven up the costs to heat and power households.

“One of the main factors is the evolution of the natural gas market at a global level, which, after many months of historically low prices, has suffered a price shock over the last weeks,” the ministry said in a statement.

It also explained that the cold and stormy weather in Spain has reduced the contribution of renewable energy to Spain’s energy grid while driving up demand for heating.

To address the situation, Spain has dipped into its subterranean natural gas reserves, which according to the Environment Ministry, is 80% full.

For two consecutive days this week, Spain registered its coldest temperature on record, which now sits at -35.6 degrees Celsius.

Several areas of the country, including Madrid, are under weather alerts for potentially record-breaking snowfall, which is set to accumulate through Saturday.​

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