Bills soar as Spain approaches record for electricity prices

MADRID (AP) — Households and businesses in Spain will be thinking twice about using appliances and switching on lights starting Thursday when the country sees a new record for the cost of electricity.

Customers in both Spain and Portugal will pay an average of 140 euros ($165 dollars) for a megawatt-hour of electricity, according to OMIE, the electricity market operator for the Iberian Peninsula.

That will give the Iberian neighbors the highest prices in Europe, closely followed by Italy, according to data from market operators in each country consolidated by EnergyLive consultants.

Spaniards have felt the pinch of higher electricity prices all summer. Consumers began complaining in July when the cost reached 106 euros (then $124) per megawatt-hour during a hot spell. Before then, the previous record cost was 103 euros per MWh, set on Jan. 11, 2002.

The Spanish government says the soaring electricity bills are driven by increase demand, gas imports that Spain needs to fulfill its energy needs and spiraling prices of so-called carbon certificates, which give companies the right to release carbon dioxide.

Even though the government has tried to help by reducing taxes on electricity, the price has only continued to go up. The government has asked the European Union to reform the energy market, but has warned that there is no quick fix.

Temperatures have fallen with the arrival of late summer rains, so at least customers keep their air conditioners turned off.

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