Thursday, September 16

Spain Launches Investigation After Dams Were Drained for Profit During Drought | Spain


The Spanish government launched an investigation after it emerged that a power company drained two reservoirs amid a heat wave and drought to benefit from exceptionally high electricity prices.

Iberdrola, the country’s second-largest producer, drained the Zamora and Cáceres dams in western Spain over a period of a few weeks to produce cheap hydroelectric power while the price for consumers is at a record level.

Air conditioners and fans are running at full throttle as Spain remains engulfed in a heat wave. He recorded his the highest temperature in history on Saturday, 47.2 degrees, in Córdoba in Andalusia.

Teresa Ribera, Minister of Ecological Transition, described Iberdrola’s actions as “scandalous” and has written to the company.

“This cannot be allowed to happen,” the minister said in a televised interview. “Water is a scarce resource that is as important for the well-being of families and the economy as it is for generating electricity.”

Ribera said that, although he considered Iberdrola’s actions irresponsible, they were not illegal since the company is allowed to use a fixed amount of water per year, whenever it wishes and regardless of the weather circumstances.

“It is legitimate but not reasonable, so we want to intervene as soon as possible,” he said.

Both reservoirs are a long way from the sea and were popular for swimming and boating, especially in the hot summer months. Now they are a desert, according to Javier Aguado, mayor of San Cebrián de Castro, one of the affected towns.

The Ricobayo reservoir (Embalse de Ricobayo) before it was drained to produce hydroelectric power in Zamora, Spain.
The Ricobayo reservoir (Embalse de Ricobayo) before it was drained to produce hydroelectric power in Zamora, Spain. Photography: Joaquin Ossorio-Castillo / Alamy

In another, San Pedro de la Nave-Almendra, the water level is so low that the pumps that extract the drinking water get clogged with mud and the filters have to be cleaned twice a day.

Electricity prices in Spain are set daily through what is actually an auction in which power generators bid for their share of the market based on expected demand.

A base price is set by the cost of nuclear energy and renewable energy such as wind and solar, since they are the cheapest, and then the rest, hydroelectric and fossil fuel generators, make their offer.

The net effect is that the higher the demand, the higher the price, and these fluctuations make it almost impossible for consumers to budget for their electricity bill.

Emptying the reservoirs to speed up hydroelectric production put Iberdrola in a position to bid for a bigger slice of the pie.

With the heat wave expected to continue for several more days, most of the country faces temperatures ranging between 30 and 44 degrees.

Passengers who took the train from Albacete to Córdoba on Friday are demanding a refund from the national railway company Renfe after spending 4.5 hours at 45 ° C (113 ° F) without air conditioning.

In Barcelona, The zookeepers are feeding the gorillas and chimpanzees ice cream. to cool them down.


www.theguardian.com

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