Sunday, 9 August 2015

Electricity bills in Spain, what's going on?

From time to time, I receive a call or an email from someone asking me what's going on with the electricity bill. 

Normally the client think that the electrical company is charging him much more that it could be expected for an apartment that is not in use. For that reason I was looking some information in order to explain in simple words what's going on in the Spanish electrical business:

Spain’s electricity bills are among the highest in Europe, having risen 70 percent between 2006 and 2014. 

The government says the main problem is the enormous electricity deficit – the difference between the sum paid by electricity companies to power generators and the amount they recoup from their customers. This has occurred as a consequence of subsidies to promote renewables, including high feed-in tariffs to power generators.

What is the rate deficit? What is the annual fee for the rate deficit?

The rate deficit is the difference between the real cost of power production, distribution and delivery and the price paid by consumers through their electricity bill, which is less, and consequently, does not cover that real cost. Through a Government decision, this difference is paid for “in instalments” and is reflected in the electricity bills of following years, with their price, therefore, increasing.

Currently, payment is still outstanding on a deficit of 26 million euros accumulated over preceding years. In 2013, an additional deficit has been generated to date in the amount of almost 4.5 million euros, although the Government hopes that once all of the year’s costs and revenues have been accounted for, this figure will decrease to just 3.6 million. The Government has adopted different measures in order to correct the disparity by sharing the burden among electricity firms, special regime producers (solar, wind, etc.,) and consumers.

The higher the accumulated deficit, the higher this amount is. In 2013, it has meant almost 3 million euros, which represents more than €5 out of every €100 paid by domestic customers on their bill.

The bill also shows other costs not directly related to the provision of electricity: direct and indirect taxes, subsidies and payment of the rate deficit.

Which taxes are included in the electricity bill?

Currently two types of taxes are paid directly on your electricity bill. On one hand, VAT, which for electricity is set at the maximum rate of 21%. On the other hand, the Electricity Tax, used to finance the Autonomous Communities.

The sum total of all these taxes represents 29% of the electricity bill, which is much more than the standard 21% VAT.

What are the subsidies for renewable energies?

Subsidies for renewable energies represent more than €18 out of every €100 paid on the electricity bill.

However, the increases in taxes and other charges not directly related to the electricity supply (such as subsidies for renewables, payment of the accumulated deficit, or taxes included in the electricity bill), have increased by 189% since 2005.

The Electrical Auction Scandal  

Following two price rises in August and October of 2013, generated by the energy auction lobby, electricity companies announced just before Christmas of that year that prices would go up a further 11 percent in January 2014; in the face of the outcry that followed, the government intervened, preventing the increase. 

But how does the energy auction work?

The energy auction called CESUR it was run by OMIE (the Operator of the Iberian Energy Market - Spanish Pole) and is supervised by the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC).
This auction was held every three months, and its price was used to establish the tariff that consumers with the last resort tariff will pay. At this auction, the buyers are last resort traders, and the sellers are financial institutions, or national as well as international companies involved in electricity generation or trading.
Several weeks before the auction, the last resort traders give the CNMC their forecasts of their customers’ consumption for the following quarter. The CNMC analyses this information together with the Ministry of Industry, deciding how much energy will be bought at the auction, and publishing a Resolution convening the auction and stating the date of the auction and the amount of energy intended for purchase.
Companies interested in participating as sellers must be previously accredited by the auction Administrator (OMIE).
The Administrator establishes the starting price, and sellers bid for the amount that they are prepared to sell at that price. The total sum of these bids (energy offered) is greater than the energy auctioned (intended for purchase). At this point, a series of rounds begin at which first the Administrator reduces the price, and then the sellers adjust their bids downwards (reduce the amount of energy that they offer). At the end of each round, the Administrator compares the energy offered with that intended for sale, and if there is still a surplus on offer, a new round begins. 

It was suspected that the different actors in the electrical pool, were fixing prices around a 30% above the real price of generating that electricity, and when the people figure out that, the government decide to change the rules.  

OK, I can see where they are going, but where we are now?:

After a year of study an as stipulated in the new regulations of the Government, as of July 1, 2015 until October 1, 2015, it starts the new method of billing electricity for hours, whereby power companies to bill customers based on consumption of light make every hour to check prices applying at the time the energy market.

Billing by the hour you pay a different price for what you use each time. These prices are published daily by Red Eléctrica de Spain (REE). That is, REE daily publishes on its website - - from 20:15 hours, prices of energy for hours the next day. Even you will see the prices of previous days.

The electricity bill for the average consumer (366 kWh/month at 4.4 kW) per month has gone up from 71,46 euro in May 2014 to 74,50 euro in May 2015. This marks an increase of 3,04 euro.

According to consumer rights organization Facua, the cost of electricity per kWh consumed has increased 5.8%, while the price of the kW of power contracted has remained the same since February 2014 (the date on which it went up 17.9%).

On a month-upon-month basis, the average person’s electricity bill, which was approximately 76,10 euro in April 2015, dropped 2.1% the following month. The kW has remained at the same price as mentioned previously, and the kWh fell 2.8% in May in comparison to the previous month.

Facua has asked the Government to step in and ensure that electricity prices are fixed at their real cost and that the consumer is no longer subjected to price hikes whenever the electricity companies feel like implementing them.

The organization has also called for electricity companies to stick to the EU Court of Justice regulations that stipulate that consumers should be informed of any price increases before they are actually enforced – something that does not happen in Spain.

So, as you can see, there is not a simple explanation, but you can clearly figure out a few things about this situation: 

A) Even if you have your property with the electricity off, you will receive a bill that will be up to the 60% of the one you receive if you are there. This costs are for pay taxes and other costs and not for consume. 

B) If you only let your fridge plug you are going to pay around the 30% of the average consume, as it is one of the appliances that more electricity needs.  

C) The system change, so its difficult to compare last year numbers with the actual ones. 

D) The higher your power contract is, more are you going to pay in fix costs.

D) Spanish electrical system sucks

Some links (in Spanish) with information about this (you can use google translator):

The electricity bill will rise by between 7% and 10% in the first quarter

The light goes up 11.4% in January-July 2015 compared with the same period of 2014

The collapse of a perverse auction

I promise I will come back with more nice stuff about Estepona, but I think Its also good for you to know this information. 

If you like this Blog feel free to post a comment (on this post or in the one you like the most), its nice to have some feedback!!

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Estepona, world capital of ham

After last edition success and for the second year in a row, Estepona will become the world capital of ham. The professional ham cutter, Jose Maria Tellez, will organize the largest tasting of this delicious product at Estepona promenade. The event will be held from 12 till 16 August, and more than 150.000 visitors are expected.

A total of 69 companies of the sector will offer their products for "five euros the dish" with cheese, pepperoni and soft drinks.

The best ham cutters in the country will be at the event, so one of the highlights of this meeting will be watch to these ham professionals preparing the dishes that will be later offer to the guests.

This event will be open to both the public and professionals in the industry, and the main objective is none other than to value and publicize the high variety and quality of the Iberian products existing in Spain.

Exhibitors will remain open on the town centre promenade between 20:00 and 2:00 hours.

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Selwo Natural Park

Selwo Aventura proposes a great adventure in Africa on the Costa del Sol and make an exciting expedition for its wild territories.  All types of flora and fauna come together in this semi-open park where visitors may get up and close to the wildlife through an authentic safari. 

You can see on this map the different areas of the park. 

Photo credit: Tomas Alcala
Selwo Adventure is a unique animal, nature and adventure park, located in Estepona. 

The park covers more than 100 hectares and is home to more than 2,000 semi-free roaming animals from all over the world in recreated natural habitats. 

You can meet the most representative species of Africa such as lions, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, cheetahs, hyenas....

Known as the fastest animal in the world, the cheetah can run at full speed at over 100 km/h for 10 to 20 seconds.

Hyenas are extremely intelligent, They hunt in groups of 10 to 30 individuals, led by a dominant female.they can reach up to 50 km/h for more than 3 km.

The red Panda is principally nocturnal and solitary. It uses trees not only to feed, but also to escape from predators on the ground and to sunbathe in the winter.

The Hippopotamus can reach great speed of up to 30 km/h over short distances.  It is one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and is often considered to be the most ferocious animal in Africa.

With some males exceeding 250 kg it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger.Until about 10,000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. 

In addition you have "Territory Madagascar", the habitat of ring-tailed lemurs who enters the habitat of these mammals originating in the large African island.

Europe's largest walk through aviary with over 1000 birds of different species living in an enclosed valley.

 The park has a variety of adventure activities such as one of the longest zipwire in Europe, camel rides or the Path of the Hanging Bridges. There is also the Selwo Lodge Hotel if you wanted to stay for longer than a day and specific programs for younger as the Nature and summer camps.

Its a good idea to buy the tickets on-line as you can get a good discount. For more information visit: 

How to get there:

By car, you should take the exit located at Km. 162,5. 

Avenue Selwo s/n
A7 highway km 162,5
29680 Estepona - Málaga
GPS: 36.461818, -5.086251

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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Jellyfish Alert!. Some facts you should know.

Today we are going to talk about our not-so-friendly-neighbours the Jellyfishes, that visit our shores from time to time. 

Jellyfishes are free-swimming, non-aggressive, gelatinous marine animals surrounded by tentacles. These tentacles are covered with sacs that are filled with poison that can cause a painful sting.  

Their natural habitat is more than two nautical miles off the shoreline, but what (we saw recently) is what happens when there is little rainfall in spring and the temperatures are very high as they reproduce more, making it more likely that they reach the coast and appear as swarms. In addition, with the ongoing problems of overfishing and pollution which kill-off their natural predators, you have the ideal conditions for a jellyfish invasion.

Jellyfish are usually found near the surface of the water during times of diminished light, floating in the water column, or after washing up on the beach. Jellyfish stings are generally accidental and a relatively common problem for people swimming, wading or diving in seawaters. The long tentacles trailing from the jellyfish body can inject you with venom from thousands of microscopic barbed stingers.

Jellyfish stings vary greatly in severity. Most often they result in immediate pain and red, irritated marks on the skin. Some jellyfish stings may cause more whole-body (systemic) illness. And in very rare cases jellyfish stings are life-threatening.

Common signs and symptoms of jellyfish stings include:

Burning, prickling, stinging pain
Red, brown or purplish tracks on the skin — a "print" of the tentacles' contact with your skin
Tingling and numbness
Throbbing pain that radiates up a leg or an arm.

Severe jellyfish stings can affect multiple body systems. These reactions may appear rapidly or several hours after the stings. Signs and symptoms of severe jellyfish stings include:

Nausea and vomiting
Muscle and joint problems
Weakness and dizziness
Loss of consciousness
Difficulty breathing
Heart problems

The severity of your reaction depends on:

The type and size of the jellyfish
Your age, size and health, with severe reactions more likely in children and people in poor health
How long you were exposed to the stingers
How much of your skin is affected

When to see a doctor

Seek emergency treatment if:

Stings cover large areas of skin
You have severe symptoms or a serious allergic reaction
A rash or other skin reaction due to delayed hypersensitivity may be treated with oral antihistamines or corticosteroids.
A jellyfish sting occurring on or near an eye requires immediate medical care for pain control and a good eye flushing. You will likely be seen by a doctor specializing in eye care (ophthalmologist).

Most stings can be treated with these simple remedies:

Remove stingers. 
Remove any pieces of jellyfish tentacle in your skin by rinsing the wound with seawater. 
You can also try gently scraping off the stingers with the edge of an ID card or a credit card. 
Avoid getting sand on the wound. 
And don't rinse with fresh water or rub the area with a towel, as these actions may activate more stingers.
Rinse with vinegar or apply a baking soda paste. Rinse the affected area with vinegar for about 30 seconds. Or apply a paste of baking soda and seawater. Each method may deactivate the stingers of some types of jellyfish.
Take a hot shower or apply ice packs. Hot water — as hot as you can tolerate but not above 45ºC  (113 F) — and ice packs may help ease pain.
Take a pain reliever and apply lotions. Apply calamine lotion or lidocaine to help relieve itching and discomfort.

Remedies to avoid
These remedies are unhelpful or unproved:

NEVER USE TAP WATER (this will increase the pain)
Human urine
Meat tenderizer
Solvents, such as formalin, ethanol and gasoline
Pressure bandages

If you see a Jellyfish always remember to leave the water calmly. If you're stung, get out of the water without splashing much. This helps prevent more stingers from releasing venom. 

All the lifeguards at Estepona have remedies to calm down the pain and in case you have an allergic reaction they can call immediately to the ambulance, so be sure you locate the lifeguard before you go to swim. 

If you have an Android or Apple phone you can download the free App “infomedusa” that will provide you information of the jellyfish sighting in the beaches of Malaga province. 

It appears that this year we will have jellyfishes on our beaches. So you can enjoy but stay alert. If the Spanish people are not swimming and it’s a nice day, it probably means they have heard that jellyfish are nearby!!

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Monday, 13 July 2015

Viva la Virgen del Carmen!!!!

This Thursday (16th of July), Estepona will be celebrating  the Virgen del Carmen, the Patron Saint of fishermen and sailors and the main Patron Saint of the city. 

The procession is one of the most important traditions in Estepona. Will start at the Church of  "Nuestra Sra. Del Carmen" (1) around 19:30hs and continues along the promenade, where two large groups, one of tourists and devotees of Estepona on the seashore, and the other in boats of all sizes decorated for the occasion, follow it in an atmosphere of joy and festivity. 

Once they reach "Correos", the beach near the post office, (2) the Virgin is put into the water (if the weather and sea conditions allow it), while the devote bearers sing "La Salve Marinera". Then, they raise the Virgin and put it on a boat. The Lady of Carmen continues its procession by sea, followed by all the boats crowded with people cheering, using the boat's sirens and  throwing fireworks. 

It was once believed, that the Virgin cleared up the waters with her presence and that only after July 16 would the sea be fit for swimming in. We can clearly confirm that it was the Virgin that kicked off the swimsuit season!!.

It is also an evening where all the restaurants in the city centre get packed, so if you are planning to go out to have dinner (on the Spanish dinner time, after 22:00), booking a table is recommendable. 

Keep in mind that Thursday is bank holiday in Estepona. Supermarkets, banks and shops are close.  

Viva la Virgen del Carmen!!

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Thursday, 9 July 2015

Old town treasures

Explore the old town and you will always find new treasures.

Plaza Manuel Alcántara

Estepona beautification drive began back in 2012 and dozens of streets have not only been given a facelift, thanks to pedestrianized roads and squares, new pavements, and the now-famous plants pots chosen by local residents.

Plaza Blas Infante

Calle Figueroa

So far, you probably have been at Plaza Las Flores a hundred times. It is the central square in the heart of Estepona old town, where you can smell the orange trees that surround the square. All year round the central fountain is surrounded by terraces, with people enjoying some tapas, lunch, coffee or a good glass of wine. 

Plaza de las flores
From Plaza las Flores many narrow streets lead into new squares and many more terraces, restaurants and (tapas) bars. You can start from there to visit some of the most beautiful spots.

Plaza Begines

Calle Murillo

The Old Town is really coming in to its own. Gorgeous floral displays, lovely mosaics dotted around the town, the cool plazas, fountains and artwork, a few hours walking around and taking in the sights is well rewarded.

Pasaje María Cintrano

Calle Aurora

The Old Town is so well-maintained that you experience beauty at every turn and the well-managed flora not only brings an abundance of colour to the area but it also makes the back streets smell glorious!

Plaza Juan Bazan

Welcome to the not-so-secret garden of the Costa del Sol.

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