Spain’s government has said that it would ask the EU to extend a cap on electricity prices until the end of 2024, while awaiting an overhaul of the bloc’s power market rules. Known as the Iberian exception, the cap resulted from a deal with the EU that allowed Spain and Portugal to decouple the price of electricity from that of gas, enabling both governments to slash costs for consumers.
“We want to keep benefitting from this exceptional measure that has been applied in Spain and Portugal and which in principle does not extend beyond May,” Ecology Minister Teresa Ribera told Spanish TV crews.
“So we intend to ask if the Iberian solution can be extended until European regulations are modified,” she added, expressing hope that it would be in place “at least until the end of 2024”. Madrid is aware that implementing a new EU pricing regime “may take a long time”, she said.
The cap came into force in June with the promise of reducing household energy bills by up to 20 percent. It is set to remain in place until 31st May.
Current EU rules require energy producers to sell electricity on the wholesale markets at a price determined by the most expensive production costs — that of gas-fired power plants. But with prices soaring as a result of the war in Ukraine, Madrid and Portugal managed to secure EU approval to sever the pricing link to ease the impact of soaring energy prices for consumers.
Spain and Portugal have long fought to change the pricing system they say is unsuited to the Iberian Peninsula, which has little interconnection with the rest of the European electricity grid and uses large amounts of renewable power. France and Italy are also seeking an overhaul of the rules. But discussions have been delayed in recent months as countries like Austria and the Netherlands prefer to rely on free-market competition or increased network interconnections to lower prices.
A pricing reform is necessary to “reduce the volatility of electricity prices” and “guarantee the development of renewable energies”, said Ribera, adding that Madrid would soon offer new proposals on “modernising the regulation of the electricity market in Europe”.