Endesa pays for failing to comply with the quality of the service. The company has had to compensate 176,387 customers in Catalonia for the blackouts suffered in 2020. The electricity company has compensated 90% of affected consumers with less than 12 euros. Almost all were private homes, although there are four large companies, with high electricity consumption, which have been subsidized with 3,000 euros, approximately. All this due to the problems in the supply of the service.
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The company has not clarified how much money these indemnities have cost it. However, sources from the electricity company emphasize that “the trend of the last three years is positive, because there have been fewer power outages.” In 2018, 185,457 clients were compensated, while last year there were 208,480.
Barcelona is the province with the most affected subscribers in Catalonia, with 144,092 compensated, with practically all private households —144,027—. Among the subsidized ones, there is only one supply point that depends on high voltage, which demands more electrical power, and 64 medium voltage customers. In Girona there are 12,242 affected, in Lleida 5,094 and in Tarragona 14,959.
What does the law say?
The law that regulates the activities of transport, distribution, marketing, supply and authorization procedures for electrical energy installations dates back to 1955. This rule is in charge of regulating the service provided by companies such as Endesa. To do this, the territory is classified into different areas: urban, semi-urban, concentrated rural and dispersed rural. This segmentation of space responds to the number of supplies that are concentrated in a municipality.
Barcelona is considered an urban area, since it concentrates more than 20,000 clients; Parets del Vallès (Barcelona) is a semi-urban area, since it has more than 2,000 users and less than 20,000; and Gisclareny (Barcelona), the smallest municipality in Catalonia, with only 26 inhabitants, is classified as a dispersed rural area, because it does not reach 200 supply points.
As the technical resources are not the same in a provincial capital as in a small municipality in the Catalan Pyrenees, the law establishes these categories to define what is considered a bad service. In urban areas, any customer who has suffered a supply cut of more than three and a half hours or seven service interruptions in a year should be rewarded – micro cuts, less than three minutes, do not count.
In less populated places, such as concentrated rural areas, the criteria are more lax: there must be an outage of more than 11 am or suffer at least 14 blackouts. If these circumstances occur, the company must compensate the subscribers by means of a discount in the amount of any of the invoices collected in the first quarter of the following year.
In order to count power outages, all interruptions are taken into account, whether programmed, due to repairs or improvements to the electrical wiring, or unforeseen, due to bad weather, for example. The amount of compensation varies depending on the contracted power or the customer’s annual billing, among others.
“The quality of supply in Catalonia has improved,” says Endesa. However, at the beginning of this year the Generalitat opened a file for the blackouts at the end of 2020 and at the beginning of this year, with the aim of clarifying the causes. This investigation is still to be solved, confirm sources from the Ministry of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda. At that time, Endesa blamed the responsibility for the malfunctioning of the service on those who tapped the electricity, since many did so because they had illegal marijuana plantations, which involve high energy consumption and strain the electricity grid.