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ENERGY

Tariff deficit exceeded four billion euros in 2013

Government fails in bid to bring down difference between cost of electricity and amount charged to consumers

The government was hoping that 2013 would bring an end to the tariff deficit – the difference between the cost of producing electricity and what Spanish consumers are actually charged for it. But according to figures released on Monday, the amount actually grew to more than four billion euros by December.

In late December, the Industry Ministry gave up on its goal of balancing out the tariff deficit and admitted to a gap of 3.6 billion euros for the year. The final figure, however, is more than 400 million euros higher than the government’s last forecast.

The difference is partly down to the cost of importing electricity into the archipelagos of the Canaries and the Balearics, as well as the North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. That amount, which came to 900 million euros, was originally going to be covered by the national budget, but the Treasury imposed deficit reduction over any balancing out of the electricity network.

Meanwhile, subsidies to renewable energies represented 9.1 billion euros, which is 6.7 percent lower than the forecast. The industry watchdog, the CNMC, said this was partly due to the fact that “a substantial amount of photovoltaic facilities have reached the upper limit of production hours with a right to a premium.”

Higher taxes on electricity brought in an additional 220 million euros for the state, while revenues dropped 4.1 percent – or 552 million euros – due to lower household demand for electricity.

Between 2006 and 2012, energy consumption in Spain fell 11.9 percent, compared with the European average of eight percent, according to Eurostat.

The EU statistics office also shows that Spain produced eight percent of the EU's total energy, and that its dependence rate – the extent to which a country is dependent on energy imports – was 73 percent in 2012, surpassed only by Italy at 81 percent.