Social Issues

Record energy prices, stifling heat hit impoverished Madrid town

By Guillermo Azabal

Madrid, Aug 13 (EFE).- The precarious conditions for families in Cañada Real, a shanty town just outside of Madrid, have been made harsher still by a summer heatwave in combination with rocketing energy prices.

In October 2020, the electricity supply to Sector 6 of Cañada Real, which is largely made up of informal settlements and is one of Spain’s largest drug markets – was cut off, forcing families to depend on gasoline powered generators or solar panels.

In Raquel’s half-built shack, the loud sound of the generator has become the soundtrack to her three children’s playtime and for Nerea and her eleven children, the doorless fridge has left fresh food and beverages to rot in the extreme heat.

But since a heatwave hit Spain on Wednesday bringing temperatures above 40c in the Madrid region and the price of electricity reached an all-time high of 114 euros per megawatt hour Friday, Raqeul and Nerea find themselves in an even tougher situation.

“I pay up to 20 euros a day to feed the transformer, this is much more expensive than the electricity bill for an apartment,” Raquel told Efe.

The Cañada Real settlement, just 13 kilometers from Madrid, has some 7,500 inhabitants, many from the Gypsy community as well as migrants from North Africa and Romania.

Many of its residents work informally in sectors like construction.

“People complain about the prices of the electricity bill for having air conditioning. We would gladly pay for some air conditioning,” Nerea’s sister, Salud, told Efe.

“In winter we heat ourselves up with wood stoves (…) and the summer is unbearable,” Salud added.

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