The industry federation of Comisiones Obreras de Catalunya has denounced this Thursday in Parliament that Endesa, an electricity company now in Italian hands, has reduced and paralyzed investments in the maintenance of the medium and low voltage supply network - essential for services, industry and citizens - especially in Catalonia, although they point out that this situation occurs more or less generally in Spain as a whole. In their opinion, this decision has been taken on the basis of financial criteria, to maximize the company's profits, and has the effect of deteriorating the supply network itself as well as the risk of job losses. Some 5,000 people from various subcontractors are directly and indirectly employed in the maintenance of the service.
The electricity company, for its part, assures that its commitment to investments in the Catalan grid is "firm and sustained over time" and argues that it is "replanning" its activity in the medium and low voltage grid at the end of this year, in the last quarter, due to the increase in financial costs, inflation and the lack of digital supplies. "These last months the structure of Endesa's investments in the distribution network, very focused on digitalization, has been affected by the delays and the global lack of supplies of electronic equipment", Endesa sources justify.
As denounced by the union, in the subcontracted companies that provide these services to Endesa, temporary layoff plans (ERTE) have already been proposed, although they have been halted for now. The secretary of industry of CCOO, José Antonio Hernández, has pointed out in the Catalan Chamber that most electric companies, at the beginning of this year 2023, with the new tax approved by the Government, have already reduced large investments as a protest measure, in what he considers to be a "pulse" of the energy sector with the central Executive. But they also point out that Endesa has done so in a special way and has gone further since there was a change of government in Italy. Endesa is in the hands of Enel, an Italian company whose 26% is owned by the Italian government. Hernandez has made special emphasis on the fact that this stoppage has come after the company closed the 2022 financial year with its highest profits in history.
The stoppage comes after the company closed 2022 with its highest profits in history.
From the union they point out that the paralysis of programs and projects affects various areas, and that its consequences will be seen in the medium term. "When there are breakdowns it is because preventive investments have not been made in advance. If it maintains this performance, it will be seen in the coming years", warned Hernández, who assures that the subcontracted companies are between 30% and 40% of turnover and expected workload.
One of the examples given by the person in charge of industry in the Catalan federation of CCOO is that even if a new desalination plant were built in the Maresme to alleviate the effects of the drought, right now it would not be able to operate due to the state of the electrical network. He also pointed out that part of the grid is not prepared for the current paradigm, in which there are various production and distribution points with wind and solar energy, unlike what happened in the 20th century. "We have a 20th century power grid and we need a 21st century one. It used to be one distribution grid, now there are many distribution points. Energy generation can be green, solar, wind... but if the grid doesn't work it won't go well," warned CCOO energy manager Manuel Martínez.
Endesa outlined an investment plan of 1,000 million euros for three years which, according to the company, will be fulfilled.
The press conference in the Parliament has been supported by PSC, Esquerra Republicana, Junts per Catalunya, CUP and En Comú Podem. CCOO representatives also met with the Department of Labor.
Endesa drew up an investment plan of 1,000 million euros for three years which, according to the company, will be fulfilled. "The new strategic plan for investment in the distribution network of Catalonia 2024-26 has already been presented and approved by the administration, so it will be fulfilled and will have continuity," say the sources consulted, who also emphasize that they are already accelerating procedures with the Catalan public administrations for projects of new supplies and renewable connections to the network planned for the first half of 2024 so that they can be executed during the last quarter of this year. "This will allow to complete the level of activity of the medium and low voltage contractors for this 2023", point out the sources of the electric company, which details that the contractors specialized in the high voltage grid have seen an increase in their activity this year. On this issue, the unions point out that only the activity in new supplies has increased, as this brings profit for the company.