Defending energy rights in Barcelona - "Being cold at home is not normal"
18 May 2022
"Pasar frío en casa no es normal" - with this statement the Barcelona City Council that is part of Barcelona’s Local Energy Agency sends a very clear message to its citizens. Barcelona clearly indicates its will to exit energy poverty and to support the citizens of Barcelona in executing their energy rights.
One measure that has been launched in 2017 by the Barcelona City Council and that is considered today as a successful initiative, aiming at detecting and reducing energy poverty, is the installation of so-called ‘Energy Advising Points’ (EAPs). The initiative is based on the Catalonian Law 24/2015 on urgent measures to address the housing crisis and energy poverty, which prohibits companies from disconnecting vulnerable households from electricity and natural gas supply and obliges them to maintain energy services when households are facing economic difficulties. The law states that light, water and gas are a basic right and everyone should have guaranteed access to those supplies. Despite the validity of this above-mentioned law since 2015, many inhabitants of Barcelona still suffer from energy poverty. A lack of information prevents them from executing their energy rights or reducing their bills without losing comfort.
The Energy Advising Points are located in 11 districts of the city and offer personalized information and assistance for all citizens of Barcelona and in particular for vulnerable households, to exercise their energy rights. Any citizen in search of support can get advice on how to reduce their energy expenses, on how to better understand electricity, water and gas bills as well as on how to apply for subsidies.
The number of people living in Barcelona and affected by energy poverty and the high acceptance rate of the Energy Advising Points show, that such supporting measures, which are close to the citizens, are highly needed to fight energy poverty: In Barcelona, roughly 10 % of the 1.6 million inhabitants are affected by energy poverty. Since their establishment, the Energy Advice Points served 21,700 households and assisted more than 56,000 people on energy related topics and questions until today. In addition, the initiative promotes social integration of vulnerable households, as many of the people employed at the EAPs themselves have been at risks of exclusion (previously unemployed, mostly female, and over 45).
In 2019, the C40 global network of cities has recognised the project as one of the best initiatives against the climate emergency, as described in the report ‘Cities 100’.
> For further information about the Energy Advice Points, please access the Barcelona City Council’s web page.
> To read the case study published by the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy Europe, please click here.
(1) Energy Cities: https://energy-cities.eu/best-practice/fighting-energy-poverty/, accessed on 19/04/2022
(2) Ajuntament de Barcelona: https://www.habitatge.barcelona/en/housing-services/problems-paying-your-home/energy-rights/energy-advising-points, accessed on 19/04/2022
(3) C40 Knowledge Hub: https://www.c40knowledgehub.org/s/article/Cities100-Barcelona-tackles-energy-poverty-via-retrofits-and-job-training?language=en_US, accessed on 19/04/2022
The Energy Advising Points offer support to the citizens of Barcelona (Unsplash) by "Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash"