Spain's fast but pricey in­ter­net

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - COSTA LIVING - By Shel­ley Lid­dell

IN 2009, Spain ap­proved the elec­tric­ity so­cial rate ('Bono So­cial'), a dis­count reg­u­lated by the gov­ern­ment mainly aimed at pro­tect­ing fi­nan­cially vul­ner­a­ble groups.

In re­al­ity, it is a 25% or 40% dis­count on a spe­cific tar­iff known as ‘Pre­cio Vol­un­tario para el Pe­queño Con­sum­i­dor’ (PVPC), or vol­un­tary small con­sumer price.

This dis­count could rep­re­sent an an­nual sav­ing of more than ¤ 200 for the av­er­age con­sumer.

De­spite it be­ing launched over eight years ago, there are still doubts con­cern­ing who can ap­ply for it, par­tic­u­larly since the cri­te­ria changed in Oc­to­ber 2017 with a new Royal De­cree.

The so­cial rate is aimed at pro­tect­ing house­holds classed as ‘vul­ner­a­ble’, ie those on a low pen­sion, large fam­i­lies or fam­i­lies with very low in­come. The gov­ern­ment‘s Oc­to­ber 2017 Royal De­cree changed the requirements nec­es­sary to ben­e­fit from the so­cial rate to in­clude vic­tims of ter­ror­ist at­tacks, those with dis­abil­i­ties and vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

The new so­cial rate has three dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories, each with a cor­re­spond­ing dis­count per­cent­age, rang­ing from 25 to 40%.

Who is en­ti­tled to the new so­cial rate?

In or­der to ben­e­fit from the so­cial rate, you must have the PVPC elec­tric­ity tar­iff (with or with­out time re­stric­tion) and a con­tracted power equiv­a­lent to or be­low 10 kW in your usual res­i­dence.

With the PVPC tar­iff sys­tem, the prices of elec­tric­ity can change ev­ery hour ac­cord­ing to the progress of the elec­tric­ity mar­ket. In other words, the amount payable on your bill de­pends on fac­tors such as cli­mate (if it is windy or sunny) or en­ergy de­mands.

In ad­di­tion, you will need to ful­fil cer­tain requirements in or­der to be classed as a vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomer, a se­verely vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomer, or a se­verely vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomer at risk of so­cial ex­clu­sion.

How­ever, ba­si­cally you must fall un­der one of these cat­e­gories: pen­sioner, large fam­ily or a low-in­come fam­ily.

What are the requirements?

Vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers (ben­e­fit­ting from a 25% dis­count on elec­tric­ity bills) are con­sid­ered to be any­one hold­ing a PVPC con­tract that ful­fils any of the fol­low­ing requirements. Their to­tal an­nual in­come must be less than or equiv­a­lent to the fol­low­ing lim­its:

- If you are not part of a fam­ily unit or there are no un­der­age chil­dren in it: 1.5 times the IPREM*: €11,279.

- If there is a mi­nor in the fam­ily unit: 2 times the IPREM*: €15,039.

- If there are two un­der­age chil­dren in the fam­ily unit: 2.5 times the IPREM*: €18,799.

All these thresh­olds will be in­creased by 0.5%of the IPREM* if a mem­ber of the fam­ily has a dis­abil­ity level above or equiv­a­lent to 33%, or if they are a vic­tim of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or ter­ror­ism.

- Pen­sion­ers: the ap­pli­cant (or if there is a fam­ily unit, all the mem­bers of the same) re- ceive the min­i­mum pen­sion from the Span­ish so­cial se­cu­rity sys­tem (through re­tire­ment or per­ma­nent dis­abil­ity).

- Large fam­i­lies with at least three chil­dren: all with­out ex­cep­tion. They must have the large fam­ily card (tí­tulo de fa­milia nu­merosa).

Se­verely vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers

Cus­tomers are classed as se­verely vul­ner­a­ble (dis­count of 40% on elec­tric­ity bills):

Due to their in­come: those who meet the requirements to be con­sid­ered vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers and also have in­come lev­els be­low 50% of the lim­its es­tab­lished for vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers.

- Pen­sion­ers: all the mem­bers of a fam­ily unit are pen­sion­ers within the so­cial se­cu­rity sys­tem, re­ceiv­ing a min­i­mum pen­sion (through re­tire­ment or per­ma­nent dis­abil­ity), and their an­nual in­come is less than or equiv­a­lent to 1 time the IPREM*: €7,039.

- Large fam­i­lies: with an in­come equal to an amount be­low 2 times the IPREM*: €15,039. *IPREM (Mul­ti­plier for the

Public In­come In­dex that stands at €7,515.59 for 14 monthly wage pay­ments).

Se­verely vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers at risk of so­cial ex­clu­sion

This cat­e­gory in­cludes se­verely vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers re­ceiv­ing as­sis­tance from so­cial ser­vices from a re­gional or lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion that fi­nances at least 50% of the to­tal of their bill.

Lim­its on elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion

Dis­counts of 25% and 40% of to­tal elec­tric­ity bills are sub­ject to a limit on en­ergy con­sump­tion that, when ex­ceeded, the PVPC will be ap­plied:

- Pen­sion­ers: 1,680 kWh of elec­tric­ity con­sumed per year.

- Large fam­i­lies: 3,600 kWh per year.

- Con­sumers with no chil­dren: 1,200 kWh per year.

- Con­sumers with one child: 1,680 kWh per year.

- Con­sumers with two chil­dren: 2,040 kWh per year.

How to ap­ply for the so­cial rate

Firstly, get all the nec­es­sary pa­per­work to­gether.

You will have to com­plete a form which is down­load­able from:

En­desa - https://www.en­de­saclientes.com/static/ibe­ria/ so­lic­i­tud-bono-so­cial.pdf

Iber­drola: www.iber­drola cur.es/we­b­clipb/gc/prod/ es­_ES/estati­cos/te-in­teresa/ tar­i­fas-reg­u­ladas/bono-so­cial/ docs/For­mu­la­ri­o_­so­lic­i­tud_ Nuevo_Bono_So­cial_Con_ apli­ca­cion_MINETAD_V2.pdf

Then, ac­cord­ing to clas­si­fi­ca­tion, you will re­quire the fol­low­ing: Vul­ner­a­ble / Se­verely vul­ner­a­ble con­sumer:

- So­cial Rate Form com­pleted and signed by the en­tire fam­ily unit. Forms can be down­loaded from the Iber­drola (www.iber­drola.es) and En­desa (www.en­de­saclientes.com) web­sites. See above di­rect links to the form.

- Pho­to­copy of na­tional iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ment (DNI) for Spa­niards, or for­eign­ers' iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber (NIE) for the sup­ply point ac­count holder and for all mem­bers of the fam­ily unit (any mem­ber over 14 years old).

- Pho­to­copy of the fam­ily book (li­bro de fa­milia) or cer­tifi­cate of the in­di­vid­ual page from the civil registry for each mem­ber of the fam­ily unit. This is only ap­pli­ca­ble to fam­ily units; the fam­ily book can be ob­tained from the civil registry (reg­istro civil).

- In­di­vid­ual mu­nic­i­pal reg­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate (padrón) for each mem­ber of the fam­ily unit or a joint cer­tifi­cate. This can be ob­tained from cit­i­zen ser­vices of­fices and town halls.

- Pho­to­copy of a valid large fam­ily card (only ap­pli­ca­ble to large fam­i­lies). Can be ob­tained from cit­i­zen ser­vices of­fices or the fam­ily de­part­ment of so­cial se­cu­rity of­fices.

- So­cial ser­vices cer­tifi­cate from the com­pe­tent agency of one des­ig­nated by the au­ton­o­mous re­gion cer­ti­fy­ing Spe­cial Cir­cum­stances: dis­abil­ity level above or equiv­a­lent to 33%, vic­tim of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or vic­tim of ter­ror­ism. (Only ap­pli­ca­ble to spe­cial cir­cum­stances.) Can be ob­tained from the De­part­ment of So­cial Af­fairs (Depar­ta­mento de Asun­tos So­ciales) or so­cial ser­vices of­fices.

Both Iber­drola and En­desa rec­om­mend that you at­tach a pho­to­copy of your last bill to the ap­pli­ca­tion; this can speed things up.

Once you have all the doc­u­men­ta­tion to­gether, you can send it to your elec­tric­ity com­pany.

Iber­drola:

Send by email to bonoso­cial@iber­drola.es or by post to Iber­drola Comer­cial­ización de Úl­timo Re­curso S.A.U., Apar­tado de Correos 61.017 , 28080 Madrid.

The ap­pli­ca­tion can also be taken to any of their of­fices or ser­vices points. En­desa:

Send by email to bonoso­cial@en­desa.es or by post to Apar­tado de Correos nº 1167, 41080 Sevilla. Or freep­hone num­ber: 800 76 03 33.

The ap­pli­ca­tion can also be taken to any of En­desa’s com­mer­cial of­fices and ser­vice points.

Once your com­pany ver­i­fies the doc­u­ments that you send in or present at their of­fices, they will trans­fer your re­quest to the Min­istry of En­ergy, who will val­i­date the ful­fil­ment of the requirements to be a ben­e­fi­ciary of the so­cial rate, as­sign­ing the de­gree of vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

Within a pe­riod of ap­prox­i­mately 15 days, your com­pany will re­ply to you in the same way that you sub­mit­ted your ap­pli­ca­tion.

The dead­line for ap­pli­ca­tions is April 10, 2018.

What should peo­ple who al­ready ben­e­fit from this so­cial rate do?

If you had the pre­vi­ous so­cial rate, you will need to re­new it, since the cri­te­ria changed in Oc­to­ber 2017.

You have un­til April 10, 2018 to prove that you meet the requirements. Un­til then, you will con­tinue to re­ceive the rate sub­sidy. If you have not pro­vided ev­i­dence of meet­ing the new cri­te­ria by April 10, 2018, the PVPC tar­iff will be au­to­mat­i­cally ap­plied with­out dis­counts.

How can I keep the so­cial rate?

Elec­tric­ity com­pa­nies must check that those ap­ply­ing for the so­cial rate meet the el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria and that these re­main the same at all times. Once it is granted, it is valid for a pe­riod of two years, af­ter which proof of com­pli­ance with the cri­te­ria must be sub­mit­ted again.

Should the so­cial rate cease to be ap­plied with­out jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, con­tact your elec­tric com­pany.

Fur­ther­more, there is an ex­cep­tion for large fam­i­lies: they must re­new the so­cial rate when their 'large fam­ily card' (tí­tulo de fa­milia nu­merosa') is go­ing to ex­pire.

Most com­pa­nies will send cus­tomers a let­ter 60 days be­fore the ex­piry date.

Be­ware that chang­ing com­pany could af­fect the so­cial rate, so dou­ble check be­fore chang­ing.

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