Energy saving measures were introduced in Spain on August 10, despite criticism from some sectors including those who fear a negative effect on business.  The move is part of the effort to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas by seven per cent.  Madrid resisted the EU’s recommended full 15 per cent reduction, because Spain does not depend on piped Russian gas. 

The new rules are being introduced in three phases, with the first now in place and the others following throughout this month, and then remaining in place until November next year.  The Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, said the measures would be applied “with flexibility” and in the first full week of restrictions last month, electricity demand in Spain dropped by 3.7 per cent.

The first rule requires indoor temperatures to maintained at no lower than 27 degrees Centigrade in summer, while the maximum heating level in colder months should not be above 19℃.  This is mandatory in public buildings, shops and department stores, airports, railway and bus stations, cultural venues and communal areas of hotels.  Exempted are restaurants, gyms, health centres, training centres, hairdressers, launderettes and public transport.

Shop window displays and unoccupied public buildings cannot be illuminated after 10.00pm, although decorative lighting on monuments is exempt.

The second rule which comes into force on September 2 requires buildings affected by the temperature regulation to display information about the restrictions, with thermometers visible to customers.  The final rule is for such premises to have door closing systems in place by September 30.

Breaking the rules is reported to be described as a minor infringement, although such transgressions could in theory be fined up to €60,000.  Offences described as serious or very serious have an upper limit on fines set at €100 million.

In the Madrid region however, the leader has vowed to ignore the new regulations introduced by the left-leaning minority government led by the PSOE’s Pedro Sáchez.  Isabel Diaz Ayuso of the opposition Partido Popular, who also refused to implement restrictions during the recent pandemic, claimed the measures would generate insecurity and impact on tourism.