Spain: death of an elderly woman sparks outcry on “energy poverty”

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By Euronews
Spain: death of an elderly woman sparks outcry on “energy poverty”

An 81-year-old woman died last Monday Nov. 14 in Reus, Catalonia, Spain after her apartment caught fire.

She used candles to light her flat because she couldn’t pay her electricity bill. The woman had a government allowance to help her pay for water, but she hadn’t requested any to pay for her electricity usage.

Two months ago the electric company cut the power of her home.

She lived alone, though her granddaughter would visit and bring her food.

Investigators are trying to find out whether she slept with a candle lit, or if she lit a candle in the middle of the night.

The woman had not paid her rent for the last 10 months and the owner had launched an eviction procedure.

At 22 percent, one in five Spaniards are threatened by poverty and more than 5 million people live in ‘energy poverty’, unable to pay household bills.

France, with a population of 66 million, has less 3.6 million people living in ‘energy poverty’.

Spain has one of the most expensive electricity prices in Europe.

Spaniards pay 0.237 euros per kWh while their neighbours in France pay 0.162 euros per kWh.

The bill can be difficult to afford, especially given Spain’s comparatively low minimum wage.

Spain’s minimum wage is €655 while in France its €1466.

Reus’ City Mayor Carles Pellicer has announced the city will sue the electricity supplier Gas Natural, accusing it of “cutting power illegally” as the company didn’t warn the City Council before cutting supplies.

Gas Natural has declared it wasn’t aware of the victim’s “vulnerable situation”.

The case has sparked outrage in crisis hit Spain.

Minimum wages in Europe

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Energy prices in Europe

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Picture: a man holds a modern version of a kerosene lamp during a rally against energy poverty marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in Madrid. October 17, 2016. REUTERS/ Susana Ver