In Spain, a power company drained reservoirs during a record heat wave and drought for profit

Spain’s government launched an investigation after it emerged that an energy company drained two reservoirs during an abnormal heat and drought to profit from exceptionally high electricity prices.

Iberdrola, the country’s second-largest electricity producer, drained reservoirs in the provinces of Zamora and Cáceres in western Spain for weeks to produce cheap hydroelectric power at a time when the price for consumers was record high.

Air conditioners and fans are running at full capacity as Spain remains in the grip of a heat wave. On Saturday, Cordoba in Andalusia recorded the highest temperature in the country’s history, 47.2C (117F).

Environmental Transition Minister Teresa Ribera called Iberdrola’s actions scandalous and sent a letter to the company.

“This cannot be allowed to happen,” she said in a televised interview. “Water is a scarce resource that is just as important to the well-being of families and the economy as it is to the production of electricity.”

Ribera said she believes Iberdrola’s actions are irresponsible, but they are not illegal because the company is allowed to use a fixed amount of water per year whenever it wants and regardless of climatic conditions.

“It’s legal but not reasonable, so we want to intervene as soon as possible,” she said.

Both reservoirs are far from the sea and were popular for swimming and boating, especially during the hot summer months. Now they have turned into a desert, according to Javier Aguado, mayor of San Cebrián de Castro, one of the affected villages.

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