An austerity-driven energy reform
Espinosa Alejos, María Paz
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Spanish Economic and Financial Outlook 2(5): 51-60 (2013)
In July 2013, the government approved a major overhaul of the Spanish electricity sector to correct existing imbalances that have led to an exponential increase of regulated electricity costs and a huge tariff deficit. The reform addresses the problem of financial sustainability of the sector, severely affected by weak demand and overcapacity. Previous regulation introduced in 2012 and early 2013, also aimed at restoring financial stability of the sector, failed to correct the tariff shortfall and new regulatory measures were needed to reduce the 4.5 billion euros forecasted deficit for 2013. The frequent change of the rules of the game in the sector has created regulatory uncertainty, more so as it is not clear that the present reform will be sufficient to eliminate the deficit. Moreover, the government has left the door open to new regulation that would deal with the price formation system. In general, short run financial criteria have prevailed, while efficiency principles and a long run perspective have little weight in the reform.