After a close fight, Barcelona’s radical mayor, Ada Colau, is expected to take office for a second term on Saturday, vindicating her often-criticised policies, which have included making sure all the city’s municipal buildings and services run on renewable energy.

On the other side of the country in Andalucía, José María González was re-elected as mayor of Cádiz last month having swept to power in 2015 on the same tide that brought Colau to office, with energy as a central issue in his campaign.

Cádiz and Barcelona have set themselves up as distributors, cutting out the middle man, and have begun installing solar panels on public buildings with the aim of becoming self-sufficient.

“Energy policy should be in the hands of the people,” González said. “In Cádiz we set up two permanent citizens’ energy forums and the people have been the driving force behind the improvements we have carried out. The people of Cádiz are the motor of energy transition.”

The city is an anomaly in that it has its own power company, Eléctrica de Cádiz, founded in 1929, in which the council holds a 55% stake. Since 2017 it has supplied all municipal needs and about 80% of households with energy from renewable sources.

About 40% of Andalucía’s power is produced by renewables, from windfarms and vast solar arrays such as those at San Roque, whose 67,000 panels rotate to follow the sun, and the innovative PS10 plant near Seville.

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