Energy poverty has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis it triggered. Spain, one of the first countries affected by the outbreak, introduced several measures to protect energy consumers during the initial lockdown and to provide them with economic relief (including a disconnection ban and the introduction of new categories of beneficiaries for its energy assistance programmes). This article presents a critical assessment of these interventions, based on the regulatory theory and a review of international experiences. It shows how emergency measures should rely on a robust but flexible targeting strategy and be supported by appropriate financing; it also sheds light on the importance of information campaigns that allow the aid to reach more households, improving the effectiveness of the intervention. The reflections and recommendations presented in this article may help improve the design of emergency measures during future health crises or extreme weather events.
Spanish layman's summary:
Este artículo analiza las medidas de emergencia que se introdujeron en España para proteger a los consumidores energéticos durante la pandemia de COVID-19. Estas medidas se comparan con otras experiencias internacionales para presentar una evaluación crítica que permita mejorar el diseño de estas intervenciones para futuros eventos extremos.
English layman's summary:
This article analyses the emergency measures introduced in Spain to protect energy consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures are compared with international experiences to provide a critical assessment that may help to fine-tune these interventions for future extreme events.
Keywords: COVID-19; Energy poverty; Energy insecurity; Emergency measures; Consumer protection; Disconnection ban
JCR Impact Factor and WoS quartile: 6.834 - Q1 (2020)
DOI reference: 10.1016/j.erss.2021.102364
Published on paper: February 2022.
Published on-line: November 2021.
P. Mastropietro. Energy poverty in pandemic times: fine-tuning emergency measures for better future responses to extreme events in Spain. Energy Research & Social Science. Vol. 84, pp. 102364-1 - 102364-8, February 2022. [Online: November 2021]