THE freeing up of the energy market in the Balearics, approved yesterday by central government, will mean a saving in household electricity bills of between 10 and 15 percent. Balearic minister for Commerce, Industry and Energy, Josep Joan Cardona, gave assurances that with the arrival of the free market in the Islands and the breaking of the monopoly currently held by the power company, Gesa, residents in the archipelago will have the same benefits as other people on the Peninsula who are able to choose the energy supply company that most suits them. “Until now, we have had to knuckle under and take what Gesa offered us. Undoubtedly, things are going to change” he predicted. The Energy minister still didn't have full details of the electricity companies which will be offering their wares on the free market but he stated that their prices will be dictated by demand. “It goes without saying that in winter, prices will be lower because demand goes down during these months” he affirmed. The summer season will undoubtedly witness higher levels of demand and therefore of prices. This is as much due to “floating” population of tourist visitors, as to higher temperatures which trigger island-wide use of air conditioning and refrigerators, etc. Cardona pointed out that the free market enables people to choose the supply company that they believe offers the best advantages and quotes a quality/price ratio best suited to their means. The government decree on the freeing up of the electricity supply market, will establish in the Balearics as it does on the Peninsula, maximum charges for power supply but it will be left to the discretion of individual companies to set the lower levels. The minister announced that in 2004, the Balearic government will introduce a quality system in the Islands that will guarantee minimum levels of service in energy supply. All companies in the sector operating in the Balearics will have to adhere to the new statutes. The scheme will determine a series of penalties which companies who don't comply with the minimum quality requirements will have to pay.

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