ECONOMY

Watchdog sees no signs of collusion in electricity tender

Antitrust agency CNMC to take no further action

The Spanish antitrust agency, CNMC, has concluded that there are no clear signs of manipulation in the wholesale electricity market auction held in December, which saw prices shoot up by 11 percent.

The auction was declared void by the CNMC due to “atypical circumstances.” If the result had been allowed to stand, it would have meant a huge hike in electricity rates for consumers whose household budgets have already been severely stretched by rampant unemployment and falling wages. The results of the regular auctions account for just under half the electricity rate, with the government setting the regulated access rate.

The government subsequently intervened and decreed that the rise in electricity rates at the start of 2014 would be a more moderate 2.3 percent. It also pledged to unveil a new arrangement for determining regular revisions of electricity rates.

The CNMC report issued Thursday noted technical problems in the design of the auctions and an unusual upward push in prices in the one held in December, but concluded there were insufficient grounds to open proceedings for possible price fixing.

Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister José Manuel Soria spoke of “coarse manipulation” in the auction. His remarks angered electricity companies, with the industry association Unesa challenging the government to hold the auction again.

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