The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has had a very significant influence on many Gipuzkoan families. In the same way as with rent, food or leisure, there are also difficulties in meeting gas and electricity costs, especially now with their high prices. 15% of Gipuzkoan households have difficulties in meeting these expenses, finding themselves in a situation of energy poverty. The Gipuzkoa Provincial Council presented this Friday the 'Study on Energy Poverty in Gipuzkoa in 2020', an analysis that shows the data and information regarding the four indicators offered by the European Energy Poverty Observatory in relation to the territory during the years 2018, 2019 and 2020.
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Two of the four indicators respond to objective questions about energy expenditure: excessive expenditure in relation to income and unusually low energy consumption. The remaining two, of a subjective nature, are based on the perceptions of the household members, which consist of analyzing the ability to keep the house at an adequate temperature in the winter months and the delays in the payment of utility bills.
The data reflected in the study show that the average energy expenditure has been reduced by 4.5% since the 2017 study. Taking into account that the number of households with excessive expenditure —consumption greater than double the provincial average— has risen from 12.4% to 15.1% in 2020, this figure means that "once again, the effect of the pandemic has been seen, affecting the most vulnerable social layers," commented José Ignacio Asensio, deputy for the Middle Environment and Hydraulic Works. Based on other data, the indicator on unusually low energy consumption shows that 6.2% of households (18,000 homes) were affected by this situation, "households whose absolute expenditure has been less than 50% of the median reference", explained Mónica Pedreira, director of the Environment of the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa.
The situation is also reflected in the 9,200 households that state that they have been late in paying said energy bills, mainly since the start of the pandemic. The only indicator that improves is the perception of households that could not maintain an adequate temperature. It has dropped from 9.4% to 7.8%, 22,839 homes that have acknowledged having been cold. The number of homes victims of energy poverty rises from 12.7% to 15.1%, with more than 6,300 new homes affected between 2018 and 2020.
'A basic good'
The Gipuzkoa Provincial Council intends to bet on energy models that are committed to "the democratization of energy and self-consumption", models with a presence in eight municipalities in the province and which are expected to increase their presence throughout the year. With this initiative, 2,500 homes and small businesses would be managed in such a way that they can save 20-30% on their energy bills. In addition to this, the Diputación will reserve a number of plates whose function will reside in covering the needs of the most vulnerable people. "Energy must be a basic good, we are going to continue to support families resolutely" "now more than ever it is vitally important to inform, train and provide the necessary instruments to citizens", mentioned José Ignacio Asensio.