Spanish energy savings plan approved by Parliament

Spain’s Parliament has signed off on a controversial energy savings plan put forward by the left-wing minority government, by 187-161.

The government had struggled to muster support for the “urgent measures” necessary in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis, with state television broadcaster RTVE reporting that it compromised with some of the smaller regional parties ahead of Thursday’s vote, to allow the measures to be changed in the future, reports dpa news agency.

The plan for the more efficient use and storage of energy was instated by royal decree more than two weeks ago, but still required the sanctioning of parliament to continue to be valid.

Parliamentarians of the conservative, liberal, and right-wing opposition parties in the Congress of Deputies voted against the proposals, despite the compromises made by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government.

The savings package and further measures due to be taken in September are to fulfil Spain’s commitments to the European Union (EU) emergency plan.

Madrid had opposed the plan originally, but agreed after compromises on part of the EU.

According to the plan, Spain is to lower its consumption of gas by 7-8 per cent, while most EU countries will be called on to save 15 per cent.

Since August 10, all public areas such as shopping malls, cinemas, offices, stores, hotels, train stations, and airports are prohibited from cooling their rooms to below 27 degrees.

Business where employees have to do manual labour, including bars and restaurants, are allowed to cool down to 25 degrees.

Along with numerous other measures, the lighting of offices, shops, and several monuments across the country must be turned off from 10 p.m., provided the space is no longer being used.

Other measures included in the plan were a monthly payment of 100 euros for students, and reduced prices for season tickets on local, medium-distance and high-speed trains.

Passes for local trains will be free, while for medium and long-distance trains they will be half-price.

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