Spain’s Curbs on Aircon Become Law in Bid to Restrict Energy Use


Spain’s parliament approved a law aimed at cutting energy use, setting the seal on a year-long drive by the government to blunt the impact of surging power prices.

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(Bloomberg) — Spain’s parliament approved a law aimed at cutting energy use, setting the seal on a year-long drive by the government to blunt the impact of surging power prices.

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Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has already pushed through the measures, which include limiting the power consumption of heating and cooling systems in buildings, by government decree in August. Today’s vote in parliament means the steps now become law.

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The government says energy consumption may have dropped by as much as 6% since the decree was enacted earlier this month. The temperature crackdown applies to offices, movie theaters, restaurants and shopping malls as well as public buildings and is part of Spain’s efforts to show its backing for the European Union’s drive to reduce reliance on Russian gas.

Even so, approval of the law wasn’t a certainty until Wednesday, when Sanchez’s Socialist-led minority administration sealed agreements with political groupings in parliament to ensure it got passed.

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While the law won enough backing to pass, some parties, including Basque and Catalan nationalists, had initially bristled at the what they said was the government’s reticence to negotiate.  In the end 187 lawmakers voted yes, and 161 voted against. 

The main opposition group, the conservative People’s Party, refused to endorse the law, saying it lacked seriousness while accusing the energy ministry of pursuing “erratic” policies.

The policies approved Thursday include:

  • Barring most businesses and public buildings from setting air conditioning at below 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer or heating at above 19 degrees Celsius in winter
  • Banning night-time lighting of public monuments or shop windows
  • Keeping shop doors closed whenever heating or cooling systems are on
  • Ordering checks on insulation systems in older buildings

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