Friday, September 24

The PP and hydroelectric energy: from asking about expired dams to ridiculing the public company

The PP has gone in two months from asking the Government about the situation of expired hydroelectric concessions under its management and the measures “to review the expiration of the concessions” to ridiculing the idea that a public company manages those licenses when they expire. A proposal also rejected by Vox, which not long ago, in May, asked the Executive if it foresees “a rescue of the concessions of the hydroelectric plants for reasons of public interest and previous compensation to the holders.”

The popular ones have described as “occurrence” the possibility that the third vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, put on the table for the first time on Thursday, that a public company manages the hydroelectric plants that have their license expired.

Pressured by the successive record prices of the electricity wholesale market, which this Wednesday will return to trading above 100 euros per megawatt hour (MWh), and the prospects of high electricity prices for the remainder of the year, the Executive Aware that the electricity bill is politically flammable material, he has finally opened up to contemplate that route, defended for years by United We Can, and that Nadia Calviño was questioning this Tuesday.

The Prime Vice President and Minister of Economy urged to prioritize the measures and areas “that may have a real impact”, such as the new 3,300 MW renewable auction announced on Monday by Ribera and scheduled for October 14, to the detriment of “other ideas “that” are not effective “, like that public company.

As the Minister for the Ecological Transition explained on Thursday, that entity would feed on expired hydroelectric concessions, in which the PP has recently been interested. On June 10, ten popular deputies they asked in writing to the Executive “what is the number of hydroelectric concessions of the Hydrographic Confederations that have expired since January 2020.” They were also interested in “what have been the actions undertaken by the Ministry of Transition to review the expiration of the concessions.”

A few weeks before, on April 22, the PP deputy for Zamora, Elvira Velasco, asked also “what response has the Government of Spain offered to the Zamorano municipalities affected by reservoirs in their demands to participate in the benefits of hydroelectric operations and municipal taxes in view of the proximity of the change or renewal of the concessions”.

At the beginning of June, the Government presented a draft bill to reduce the extraordinary benefits of hydroelectric and nuclear energy due to the increase in cost of CO2 emission permits. A proposal rejected by the electricity companies that the popular ones were quick to criticize despite the fact that, as Ribera reproached them at the time, they had just put forward a similar proposal in Congress.

An “occurrence”

Last Friday, the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, mocked in a brief tweet (“Express yourself”) the proposal of a public company relating it to Venezuela; and the deputy and former popular minister Elvira Rodríguez assured that it is “one more occurrence that will not solve the problem of what they charge us in the electricity bill” and “one more assignment to Podemos.”

On Monday, the general secretary of the PP, Teodoro García Egea, also attacked that public company in an interview in Expansión in which he erroneously stated that the regulated rate (PVPC) “is 12% more expensive than the rest.”

“I would like to know the public company that Mrs. Ribera is supposed to create with Mr. Echenique, because they are the great ideologues of this matter, what is she supposed to focus on, to act, if it is going to be a company distribution, generation, marketing … Is this public company going to offer citizens what the regulated rate currently offers, which is 12% more expensive than the rest of the market rates? How efficient is this public company when it comes to offering the price of electricity to citizens? “García Egea wondered.

The idea that the Government manages is that this public company assume the hydroelectric concessions that have already expired. These assets, amply amortized, generate energy with a very low variable cost and are systematically setting the prices of the wholesale electricity market, taking advantage of the marginal design of the so-called pool, in which the last plant is the one that matches supply and demand, and which has been triggered by high natural gas prices and CO2 emission rights.

Vox and the “rescue of concessions”

The extreme right of Vox, which fuels denial about climate change and asks to extend the life of nuclear power plants (in October they asked the Government if it values install small nuclear reactors, known as SMR), has recently asked the Executive in writing if it plans to rescue existing hydroelectric concessions, compensation through. This proposal would go far beyond the one that Unidos Podemos has been proposing for years and is now being analyzed by the Government. He did so on May 26, when eight Vox deputies they asked if “the Executive plans to tackle a rescue of the hydroelectric power plant concessions for reasons of public interest and prior compensation to the owners for a circular use of water.”

Among the authors of that question was the far-right deputy Magdalena Nevado, who these days, following the proposal of a public company, questioned the discreet results of the public electricity company created in 2019 by Ada Colau, although this has little to do with the idea that Ecological Transition is studying: that of the Barcelona City Council is basically a marketer that hardly generates energy.

Shortly before the current electricity price crisis, the Executive indicated in another battery of parliamentary responses that he planned to put out to tender the two main hydroelectric concessions that are expected to expire in the next decade: two dams of almost 400 megawatts (MW) power currently operated by Iberdrola, whose concession expires as of 2024 and which are located in Zamora. He did so in response to questions from the far-right formation. Vox has asked in Brussels about the emptying of another swamp of the electricity company in that province, that of Ricobayo, described last week as “scandalous” by Teresa Ribera.

Last Friday, the far-right formation announced that its MEP Jorge Buxadé has asked the European Commission about this matter, in his opinion a “flagrant violation of European legislation”, and accused Iberdrola of “taking advantage of high prices” to maximize its benefits at the expense of the environment and the economy of the area.

Buxadé has also disqualified the public company that Podemos has always proposed. On Thursday, the far-right politician tweeted against that proposal. She did it a few minutes before Teresa Ribera announced in a radio interview that she was going to study her.