Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 11.4.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.

- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain.

Here, from El País in English, is more on the Spanish chap who insisted the Spanish only went to South America to evangelise and civilise people who were as bad as the Nazis. Not a lot of support from Spanish historians for this take on things. 

Life in Spain: As I've confessed, I've never been able to make head nor tail of my energy bills. Which I doubt is unintentional on the part of the gas and electricity companies. But, in the last week, I've learned this from Spanish friends and from looking closely at my electricity bill:-
  • I have an intelligent meter.Usage is charged by the hour, as per the market rate at that time. So, variable.
  • I am party – no idea how or when – to a 'contract of 4.4kWh'. 
  • This means that, if I switch on various appliances and this limit is exceeded, the supply is cut off. Which explains the regular power cuts. Perhaps. 
  • If I want a higher peak limit, the price per hour of my electricity will rise. Even if I don't use more electricity over the relevant period.
I can't say this system makes any sense to me as a consumer. But I'm sure it's beneficial to GasNaturalFenosa. Incidentally, it's sort of a relief to know it's only been possible since intelligent meters were introduced a couple of years ago. With luck, I'll soon have the compensation of a 'low usage' bono social which will give me a discount of 25%. But, longer term, reader Eamon has warned that the intelligent meters are designed to identify which appliance you're using and then charge you more per heavy-use appliance. Again, this makes rather more sense for the supplier than the consumer. Who used to be charged simply at one price for the total electricity used in a defined period. Those were the days.

Need I tell you that consumer protection in Spain – though improving – is not yet at the level it is in other countries?

Reading the Faro de Vigo and the Voz de Galicia yesterday, I wondered how I'd value a newspaper called, say, The Cheshire Bugle which had a headline along the lines of Cheshire Man gets National Post. Or Cheshire Woman Makes Contribution to Development of a New Drug. Not much, I suspect. Somehow it seems less naff in Spanish.

But it's great to know that Galicia is going into the olive oil business in a big way and expects to have as great a success as it has it has with the once-unknown albariño wine. I blame it on global warming.

Which reminds me . . . At dinner with my Spanish friends on Friday night, one of the party presented 2 bottles of Galician godello wine, branded Crego e Monaguillo. I think I've mentioned before that this means Priest and Altar Boy in Gallego. How we all laughed at the thought of this being sold in the UK, as it is, with a picture on the label of a priest with his arm around a young boy.

Finally . . . Something to make everyone smile.

Today's cartoon:


Maria said...

Don't blame Galician olive oil on global warming, rather on history. The Romans first brought the olive tree, much as they brought the grape vine. Galicia had a flourishing olive oil business until the Revolta dos Irmandiños. As part of the punishment, the Catholic Monarchs ordered the olive groves in Galicia to be cut down. A few in the area just north of Quiroga were spared because they couldn't be found, but the rest disappeared. This was also done to favor new Christian settlements in recently conquered areas of Andalucía, where the climate was favorable for olives.

Colin Davies said...

Many thanks, Maria. Fascinating details.

Eamon said...

"I have an intelligent meter.Usage is charged by the hour, as per the market rate at that time. So, variable." Colin, you put a turkey in the oven which takes 3 hours to cook. During that time the cost of electricity has risen during the second hour but goes back to original price for the last hour. How does the electric company know how to work out the charge?

Colin Davies said...

Excellent question. My guess is that they charge you whatever was the highest price during the 3 hours.

Eamon said...

There are four sources of supply for Spain. Wind, solar, nuclear and coal/gas. Maybe hydro as well but not sure. Lets say they all charge 20 cents an hour. So the electric company buys their electric from the four sources. If one source goes down such as wind then the other three must make up the difference. So it still costs the same per hour. Of course not all sources are equal in charge so at any moment the cost to you can change if one goes down. If nuclear are charging 30 cents an hour and coal/gas 25 cents an hour you can see the price varies all the time. Going back to the old days when the meter had a disc spinning around you could see it spin faster if you turned on an electric fire which indicated you were using more electric but the price didn't change. Well the spinning disc does not speed up during the cooking of your turkey because the thermostat keeps a constant temperature. This is where the smart meter comes in handy for the electric company. During the second hour the price went up so they send a signal to the meter to spin that disc much faster. Of course there is no disc just the digits tick over much faster on the meter and in theory for the last hour they should slow down again. There is no way you are going to work out how much the price is per hour so you have to trust the electric company who will always give you the benefit of doubt right?

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Apart from the different costs of production (and yes, there is also hydro in Spain), another most pleasant influence on the overall price of electricity is the fact that Spain exports electricity to France, which - from time to time - puts in such a demand that the market price rises considerably.

Perfidious frogs, I say! If they don't send Napoleonic soldiers into the Peninsula, or empty the Iberian oceans from our fish, they steal the electricity that is rightfully ours!


Eamon said...

SarcasticAl, my daughter living in England has a smart meter. It sits in a cupboard in the hallway. However, she has a monitor which sits in the kitchen and from it she can see the current price of electricity on the display. It also shows how much electricity she is using whenever an appliance is switched on. The idea being to help you keep your running costs down. For example an old fridge would cost more to run than a new one. Another interesting point is that hackers have already found a way to break into the meters.

Sierra said...

Energy sources in Spain:

Renewables 35.3%
Cogeneration high efficiency(?) 0.6%
Cogeneration (?) 8.6%
Natural gas 12.6%
Carbon 19.4%
Fuel/gas 1.7%
Nuclear 20.2%
Others 1.6%

Meanwhile - are you making your contribution?:


Eamon said...

Sierra, looking at the number of shelves displaying all brands of water and those for wine in my local supermarket Família, I can see why wine is not selling. But going into Gadis it is the opposite. Reading Colin's reports on wine it would appear quality is preferable over plonk today. Years ago tap water was a bit dodgy to drink depending on where you lived but you can feel safe drinking bottled water as it is now so plentiful.

Colin Davies said...

@Alfie: I beleive the Frogs export electricity to the UK.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

What? They re-sell OUR electricity for an even higher price to the Limeys???

Happily enough, such a thing will be prohibited by our EU masters once Brexit is a fact!

(Oh, and can we fill in the Chunnel again with a few million liters of concrete???


Search This Blog