Cadiz, in the fight against fuel poverty
In 2015, while the city is in a complex situation, a new municipality comes to power and initiates considerable changes.
Three years later, the City involves a considerable number of actors in its territory in its energy transition and thus allows the implementation of real progress. The fight against fuel poverty is seen as one of the priorities of this mandate and, thanks to cooperative work between the town hall, the citizens and the town’s electricity company, a social tariff for energy is being created. Cádiz is the first Spanish city to work concretely on the introduction of such a measure. All these actions in favour of a democratic energy transition are making the city increasingly attractive and, in particular, promoting the creation of green jobs.
POTENTIAL UNTAPPED FOR YEARS
In May 2015, when the city had been in the hands of the Partido Popular 1 for 20 years, a coalition of two citizen candidates, Por Cádiz sí se puede 2 and Ganar Cádiz 3, won the municipal elections. The situation in Cádiz is complex and contrasted. While the economic crisis has been going on for almost 8 years, the city’s debt is around 275 million euros and the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the European Union, the city is also facing a very strong demographic crisis. From 160,000 inhabitants in the 1980s, it will have only 120,000 in 2017. The city has many assets, but these are not being exploited to the full. Cádiz is home to the largest semi-public energy company in Spain : Eléctrica de Cádiz.
The city owns 55% of it, with the remaining shares held by Unicaja (a Spanish bank) and Endesa (Spain’s leading energy company). With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, Cádiz is also one of the sunniest cities in the European Union. However, only 0.001% of its energy comes from the sun. Finally, the city has an important port and shipyards and enjoys a very good tourist image. From the point of view of its energy policy, in 2009 the city signed the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy 4 and thus committed itself to reducing its CO2 emissions by 21% by 2020. However, no measures were put in place in this regard when the 2013 Action Plan was drafted. Energy waste is considerable and the population is not very aware of energy issues. Finally, as everywhere in Spain, the rate of fuel poverty is very high (11% at national level in 2018) while the margins of the electricity companies are among the highest in Europe. The new municipality therefore sets the objective of relying on local resources to promote energy transition and rebuild the social and economic fabric of the city. The transition will have to be democratic, in order to bring the discussion on the city’s energy model into the public sphere, both inside and outside the institutions.
ENABLE A DEMOCRATIC ENERGY TRANSITION TO REBUILD THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC FABRIC OF THE CITY.
The new coalition formed by Por Cádiz sí se puede and Ganar Cádiz sets out three main axes in which the democratic energy transition must take place :
Implementing a sober-efficiency-renewable approach in public buildings
Fighting fuel poverty
Developing jobs in connection with the energy transition
Rethinking Municipal Energy Use
One of the first actions put in place by the new government was to carry out an energy balance, internal to the municipality, which revealed :
a lack of monitoring of municipal energy consumption leading to a high level of waste.
poor management of municipal infrastructure, due in particular to poor maintenance and lack of investment
a lack of knowledge of municipal officials and elected officials on energy issues
a lack of human and technological resources for the implementation of effective energy management
Following these observations, the municipality decided to regain control of its energy consumption. To this end, the Working Group for the Energy Transition in Cadiz (MTEC 5) is launched in 2015.
Following the results of the internal energy balance, MTEC decided to carry out a second survey (the Social Pulse on Energy).
This time the aim is to find out to what extent the inhabitants understand, or not, their energy bill and also to gather their opinion on the municipality’s energy policy. It is the first survey of this type carried out in Spain. It was designed by the members of the MTEC and consisted of 450 face-to-face interviews.
The results :
70% of the respondents said that they do not understand their energy bill.
30% of the individuals say they understand it, however after a few basic verification questions it turns out that a large number of people have a good understanding of it.
part of them don’t really understand her.
9 out of 10 people found it difficult to distinguish between renewable and fossil fuels.
92% of people would still like most of the city’s energy to be renewable.
The measures identified as priorities by the inhabitants :
replacement of street lighting lamps by LEDs
implementation of training/awareness campaigns on energy savings
adjusting the timing of public lighting systems (turning off lights at night)
Switching to renewable electricity in buildings.
100% RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY
Eléctrica de Cádiz is the historical electric company of Cadix. It is an energy distributor owned 55% by the City, the rest is owned by Endesa and Unicaja. After studying the results of the two investigations and the work of the MTEC, it was decided that Eléctrica de Cádiz would supply only renewable electricity. Since 2017, the company will supply all municipal buildings and 80% of the city’s housing with green electricity. It has also managed to win contracts in two other neighbouring Spanish cities that were previously in the hands of the large national companies.
This represents 62,000 customers and a consumption of 195,000 MWh per year, making Eléctrica de Cádiz the largest distributor of green electricity in Spain (based on the number of users). This conversion has been carried out without any price increase for end consumers. According to the President of Eléctrica de Cádiz, the conversion to 100% ENR avoids the production of 58,500 tonnes of CO2 and 93 grams of radioactive waste per year.
The company is now setting itself two new objectives :
to develop solar energy in order to take advantage of the city’s great potential and produce the electricity needed to supply it locally.
promote energy conservation in municipal buildings so that the city adopts exemplary energy behaviour
Democratize access to energy ##
IMAGINING A SOCIAL ENERGY TARIFF
The two surveys identified a major problem in Cadiz : the very high rate of fuel poverty. For several years, many citizens and movements had been calling for the introduction of a special energy tariff for the poorest families. In October 2015, the city council approved this decision and created a second working group, the MCPE 6 (Round Table for the Fight against Fuel Poverty) to determine the modalities for the implementation of this tariff. As with MTEC, the BEPM is permanent and operates horizontally by consensus.
It brings together :
human rights organisations that have been calling for its adoption for years (associations that help families in difficulty to pay their bills : Caritas, Red Cross, etc.).
members of the Department of Social Affairs ;
political representatives of all parties (except the People’s Party)
employees of Eléctrica de Cádiz
people in fuel poverty.
DEVELOP THE PROPOSAL
The tariff was devised by the MCPE. While the national social rate corresponds to a 25% reduction in the energy bill, the SCPE decided that the Cadix rate would be a reduced rate to allow each family to have a decent life. A study was therefore carried out to determine the energy needs of the most vulnerable families. This was carried out by the Technical College of Engineers and incorporated suggestions from a number of technical and legal reports. The scheme would be financed 50 per cent by the company and 50 per cent by the municipal council.
Participation in energy efficiency training was defined as a prerequisite to benefit from this grant.
The proposal was then put to a vote by the directors of Eléctrica de Cádiz.
At that time, despite opposition from the Partido Popular and Endesa, Eléctrica de Cádiz, the municipality and the MCPE worked together to make the special tariff possible. This is the first time such a tariff has been devised in Spain.
Thus, a family of 4 people in a situation of energy insecurity (2 adults and 2 children) should be entitled to :
28.50 € reduction (compared to 12.95 € with the national programme)
A help to understand the specificities of your invoice
Training to understand how to use more and less energy
In the last six months, 800 families have received direct assistance.
In addition to the social rate, the City and the MCPE have set up - in collaboration with the local electricity company - an emergency program against fuel poverty over a period of 6-9 months, which has been broken down into several very encouraging actions :
Training for 15 new energy advisors for housing and business - half of them now work for the City to advise, train and support families in fuel poverty ;
optimisation of energy contracts for 782 families (i.e. savings of 20% to 50% on energy bills) ;
110 energy education workshops : 1,400 inhabitants participated in them
180 families advised at home
an energy culture week (workshops, debates, conferences)
8 unemployed people trained to become energy advisors
Currently, the City and MTEC are working to develop a popular energy « literacy » campaign.
Each week, MTEC participants go to a neighbourhood to lead debates on energy saving, in collaboration with other local actors (NGOs, neighbourhood associations, women’s groups, etc.). The aim is not only to help participants save money (lower bills), but also to develop a culture of socially and environmentally responsible energy consumption, while encouraging citizens to be actors in the energy transition. All of these actions are intended to encourage individuals to question the traditional energy model.
By 2019, the Government also plans to develop a roadmap for sustainable energy in Cadiz through a participatory process.
Developing green jobs
In October 2017, the Torrot company announced its decision to open an electric bicycle production plant in Cadiz in order to benefit from the 100% renewable electricity offered by Eléctrica de Cádiz. The investment represents an amount of 12 million euros. Production is expected to start at the end of 2018 and will initially create 100 jobs and 100 more jobs thereafter (direct and indirect jobs). Given the very high unemployment rate, this is a positive signal for the city.
1 The Conservative Party (PP)
2 For Cadiz, yes we can
3 Translation : Win Cadiz
4 The Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy was created in 2008 and aims to bring together local authorities that have voluntarily committed themselves to meet or exceed EU climate and energy targets. There are 7,000 local and regional government signatories in 57 countries.
5 MTEC : Mesa de Transición Energética de Cádiz
6 MCPE : Mesa contra la Pobreza Energética
Energy tables in Cádiz, Spain – The municipalist drive for a fair and participatory energy transition : www.energy-democracy.net/?p=1121
Fighting energy poverty in Cádiz : www.opendemocracy.net/tni/julio-camacho/tc-cadiz-energy-poverty
Eléctrica de Cádiz se convierte en la mayor comercializadora nacional por usuarios que vende “energía 100% renovable” : www.diariobahiadecadiz.com/noticias/cadiz/electrica-de-cadiz-se-convierte-en-la-mayor-comercializadora-nacional-por-numero-de-usuarios-que-vende-energia-100-renovable
Cadiz’s energy transition links environmental and social goals – Roundtable on the Energy Transition in Cádiz : transformativecities.org/atlas-of-utopias/atlas-20