Since they were launched in 2017, Barcelona’s Energy Advice Points (PAE) have prevented households from getting their power, water or gas supplies cut off in 107,960 cases. The points have also handled enquiries from 155,500 people, from as many as 60,500 different households.
In terms of data for 2021, the volume of support provided grew by 55% compared to when the service was launched, with 33,600 people approaching the municipal energy advice points. As many as 3,817 families received warnings as they were unable to pay for basic utilities, and during the year 517 households had services cut off: 57% of them electricity (297 cases), 29% water (148) and 14% gas (72).
Compared to 2020, the number of cases increased by 334%. This explains the activation of Royal Decree 11/2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, prohibiting companies from cutting off basic utilities while the state of emergency was in place.
Women hit hardest
The figures show that the structural financial inequalities suffered by women are a telling factor when it comes to energy poverty. Women represent 65% of those who approached the energy points, with 13% single-mother households and 45% single people.
In terms of areas, the districts where the volume of support is the highest are Nou Barris (21%), Ciutat Vella (13%) and Sant Martí (13%). Nearly 70% of people who approached PAEs in 2021 were referred from Social Services Centres or Housing Offices, while 14% came after somebody recommended the service to them and 7% through various social organisations.
Over 700,000 euros in savings linked to energy advice
The increase in the price of electricity at the end of 2021 and early in 2022 has also had a big impact for families using the PAEs. Three out of four enquiries were linked to the supply of electricity. Of all these enquiries, over half were requests for advice on getting power bills down through optimisation or applications for the social discount. During the first quarter of 2022, this type of query continued to grow every month.
This advice is estimated to have led to an overall saving of 26,395 euros (28,37 euros per family receiving advice). Over 200,000 euros of this saving corresponds to families who only had electricity at home. In the case of families who also had gas, the saving was 56,640,67 euros (19,29 euros per family).
The total amount of savings associated with energy advice since the PAE service was set up in 2017 is 721,572,11 euros (VAT included).
A service to tackle energy poverty
Energy Advice Points are a service offered by the City Council, providing information, support and action needed for people to exercise their energy rights and to guarantee their access to basic utilities such as electricity, gas and water. Since the service was created in 2017, the initiative has become consolidated and is recognised by the European Commission’s Energy Poverty Observatory as one of the 24 best services for tackling this phenomenon.
Full information at: habitatge.barcelona/ca/serveis-ajuts/drets-energetics.