Aigües de Barcelona, Endesa and Gas Natural Fenosa, companies that supply water, electricity and gas to over 80% of consumers in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, yesterday joined the Metropolitan Programme of Measures to Combat Energy Poverty, a €5-million fund set up by the Área Metropolitana de Barcelona (AMB) last December that aims to avoid supply cuts (electricity, gas and water) caused by lack of economic resources. The Executive Vice-president of the AMB, Antonio Balmón, the CEO of Aigües de Barcelona, Ignacio Escudero, the General Manager of Endesa in Catalonia, Isabel Buesa, and the Director of Customer Services at Gas Natural, Josep Codorniu, yesterday signed the collaboration agreement. This represents a further step towards combating a problem that has grown in the metropolitan area of the city in recent years as a result of the economic recession.
Under the terms of the agreement, the three large utilities will not cut supplies to non-payers with energy poverty profiles. Employees of the companies will administer procedures while municipal social services process and assess each individual case. In accordance with the guidelines agreed with the AMB, the social services will assess the possibility of paying unpaid invoices through the fund. “In these difficult times, sensitivity to social reality is essential. For Aigües de Barcelona, this program represents another stage of our social commitment to those most in need”, stated Escudero.
In order to facilitate immediate activation of the metropolitan program and to ensure that the aid reaches citizens as soon as possible, the AMB has decided to assume the debt of those who failed to pay energy and water bills in 2014. According to AMB estimates, this cost is expected to amount to approximately one million euro (€1,000,000) and the metropolitan organisation will pay the amount due in the next three months from the total fund of €5 million. According to a statement from the AMB head office, payment will be made “provided that applicants fit the energy poverty or economic vulnerability profile and on the request of the social services of each individual municipal council”, in accordance with the provisions of the metropolitan program.