100 anys to the parish servei

About us

 

The beginnings

The history of the Mutua Eléctrica de Sant Julià de Lòria began in the communal mill where the parishioners had taken to grinding the wheat to make flour, the millstones driven by the current of the river. This happened when the world was about to experience the outbreak of the Great War, in a country that had just launched the road, a basic infrastructure it had longed for.

Sant Julià, 1913. The whole town agreed to go ahead with an electricity generation project. In Andorra there was already a small hydraulic power station, owned by Tabacalera Andorrana S.A., on the Roc de les Anelletes (Andorra la Vella), built in the first decade of the century for the operation of the tobacco factory and which at night illuminated Andorra la Vella and Escaldes. Later, in 1921, the energy of this power station allowed Nord Andorrà to serve the parishes of La Massana and Ordino. The singularity of the initiative of Sant Julià involved the collaboration of all the families of the parish, that the document of concession of the lands where the turbine would be installed; of 4 January 1914, left patent in the first point. The pact was sealed by the Common, Mariano Betriu, with Francisco Cairat, Pere Canturri and Juan Canturri, president, treasurer and secretary of the then new Mútua Eléctrica. “Every individual residing in this parish is given a period of three months, counting from today, to be able to be part of society”. This inclusive nature of the institution is often pointed out as one of the keys to the permanence, usefulness and vitality of the Mútua. From its beginnings, Mútua was born for everyone.

In 1914, Mútua was already supplying electricity to the town of Sant Julià. It authorised the consumption of artificially lit irons and tables, such as dressmakers and tailors, for a price of three pesetas per year. The supply was made from certain hours. In summer, from 7pm until 4am. And in winter, from 5pm to 4am. Autumn was the most complicated season for electricity production.

At that time, the General Council of Andorra saw the Principality’s natural resources as a possible way of obtaining infrastructure through concessions to foreign companies, since the country’s economy did not generate the necessary accumulation to face the necessary investments. Thus, during the first third of the 20th century, there was an intense enough activity of granting the most varied concessions, most of which were never executed.

The main concern of the General Council throughout history had been the proper maintenance of pedestrian or cavalry paths. Until the beginning of the 20th century, from the French side, the road from Soldeu to Pas de la Casa was not built and, in the interior, the road from Andorra la Vella to Escaldes and Encamp. They were three-metre-wide roads, built by the same Council. On the Spanish side, Copríncep Benlloch managed to get Spain to pay for the road between the border and the Plaza de Andorra la Vella, inaugurated in 1913.

 

 

 

 

Fhasa

The concession for the exploitation of Andorra’s water resources was finally obtained, after the mentioned abandonments, by the company Fuerzas Hidroeléctricas de Andorra S.A. (Fhasa). A company made up of Spanish and French capital that established, from the beginning, that the possible participation of Andorran capital would have to be subscribed by both sides.

The Council approved the concession to Fhasa in March 1929, ratified by the co-princes between August – the French co-prince – and September – the bishop of Urgell. The content of the concession reached the exploitation of three waterfalls for seventy-five years, the exploitation of mineral resources for ten years and the monopoly of advertising throughout the entire concession. In return, Fhasa had to pay an annual canon for a progressive value of 25,000 pesetas, from 1945 until the date of the end of the concession. Fhasa also assumed the creation of a uniformed order service to maintain the proper conservation and exploitation of the facilities. This service began in May 1931. Furthermore, 10% of the power produced was reserved for Andorra at a special price. Similarly, Fhasa undertook to make the roads from Andorra la Vella to Escaldes, from Encamp to Soldeu and from Andorra la Vella to Ordino, among others.

In August 1931, the first auxiliary waterfall came into operation. Andorra would then have a daytime electricity supply. In October 1935, the Junta General of the Mútua de Sant Julià agreed to grant Fhasa permission to begin work on the connection to the Sant Julià network. The mill’s power station had been in service until then, but it had become too small.

The electrical distribution of Vila de Sant Julià was maintained by Mútua, supplied by Fhasa. Outside the village, he was in charge of the company Electricidad Andorrana S.A., the subsidiary of the Spanish-French company created for this purpose.

The concession of Fhasa, though, was conflicting from the beginning. The tensions between the General Council and the concessionaire and the feeling of lack of supply from the citizens motivated the action of a group of Andorrans who, in 1970, blew up a pylon in La Margineda. The explosion of the artifact left the parish of Sant Julià without light. Throughout this decade, Fhasa’s nationalization proposal reached the Magna Assembly, which voted against it, stating the lack of the necessary means and personnel to take on a potentially deficient public service.

In Sant Julià, negotiations with Fhasa and the subsidiary EASA lead Mútua to acquire the entire distribution network that EASA had for the parish. In May 1977, during the presidency of Ricard Tor i Riba, the Mútua became the sole distributor for the whole of Sant Julià. A visionary initiative and, in the long run, fruitful from a business point of view, but which at that time entailed “terrible economic problems”, according to Francesc Roca, since he had to cope with the installation of new lines to provide service to the quarters and the renovation of some of those already deployed by EASA.

Feda

The conflict between the Andorran institutions and Fhasa remained latent until 1988, the year in which the head of government Josep Pintat i Solans proposed to the General Assembly the rescue of the concession, approved unanimously. The Spanish-French company ceased early and the Government bought the entire electric patrimony of the entity for 3,500 million pesetas in order to redeem for the national patrimony the leadership in the development of the electric sector. Josep Cases Barón, then president of the Mútua, remembers the moment as “an important step. The country recovered the source of energy, which was in the hands of a foreign company. It was a totally speculative society.” For Albert Pintat, then personal secretary to the head of government, “it was the culmination of a struggle that the Mutua had lived in the front line, because it was the only one that knew how to resist a type of economic imperialism that Fhasa had towards the recalcitrants of Sant Julià”. Albert Pintat finds that the president Joan Pintat i Solans – his uncle – had the “will, the drive and parliamentary support to recover the initiative in terms of energy generation”.

 

Francesc Roca explains that he “intervened, because, as we had a good relationship [with the head of the government], he contacted me several times to show me the budgets he presented and to see what I thought of the prices”. Roca remembers the “great management” of Josep Pintat i Solans: He did it all. When he had the numbers clear, he called the Conselll and said, “This is what we are dealing with. Since I am well aware that the Fhasa affair is a thorn and also creates problems and difficulties, in the Government we have come to the conclusion of buying it. He had unanimous support.”

The result was the creation of the parapublic entity Fuerzas Eléctricas de Andorra, Feda, set up on 14 January 1988 with the corporate purpose of producing, importing and distributing energy. It was also empowered to carry out activities involving the cogeneration of electricity and useful heat and trigeneration, the marketing of the resulting cold and heat and the purchase of electrical energy produced by other natural or legal persons within Andorra from renewable energies.

The big change: the 90s

In 1990, the Mútua began a dialogue with a new state-owned actor with the challenge of extending, consolidating and converting the Sant Julià electricity network into a network that could be homologated to international standards.

Josep Cases Barón began the decade as president of the Junta d’inspecció i Administració, aware that they would have to invest and strengthen the electricity network. At the same time, in 1992, the idea of burying the lines inside the village was proposed after programming the opening of the capital of Mútua. Manel Torrentallé, general manager, explains that “the Mutual was made up of 140 old shareholders”, and that “it had to be as it had always been: a thing of the people. With that capital increase, we became 490 shareholders” and we collected “money that helped us make the electrical infrastructure plan”.

The opening of the trenches to bury the electricity lines made the Junta consider offering new services to subscribers. President Josep Cases had been in the United States, where these types of nets – implanted since the 1940s – were undergoing a period of expansion. The application of that service scheme to Sant Julià was a success: “we went from watching five television channels to watching more than thirty,” Casas recalls. “The people of Andorra and Escaldes went down to Sant Julià to watch the football matches, because they couldn’t see them in the other parishes”. For Daniel Bastida, rector of the University of Andorra, with the distribution project of television signal by channel “Mútua was a leader. It went for it when it wasn’t evident that it was the way. And it has proven to be a technological solution that is being implemented everywhere”. Former minister Ferran Miralpeix recalls that the offer was “very well received”. Agustí Marfany Puyoles, president from 1995 to 2000, thinks of the cable as an example of the potentialities of Mútua: “Andorra needed either ten or fifteen more years to install cable everywhere. We already had it for ten years. A service at a very cheap price that we did much sooner and better than the State”.

The cable network – digitalized since 2005 – not only allows the distribution of television signals (currently more than a hundred channels). The potentialities are enormous, since the cable that was extended at that time was robust and well-made. In order to deploy these new possibilities, with competitive service and prices, only the approval of the institutions would be needed.

Cogeneration

Certainly, not all the projects that have been on the board of the Juntes d’Inspecció i Administració have succeeded. There are some of them that are not even on the record. In this category there would be, for example, the creation of an insurance company “complementary to CASS”, explains Torrentallé. A bank was also considered. “Can the Mútua make a financial entity? The statutes allow it,” says the director general.

An emblematic project that was discarded due to circumstances was the cogeneration plant next to the Spanish border, planned during the presidency of Agustí Marfany. The approach was based on the economic viability of the Mútua: “We needed money and obtaining it through our main activity was very difficult in a company where you are marked by the margins from Feda and from the Government”. The emergence of cogeneration projects with gas in Spanish territory made the Junta interested. “Since Mútua originally produced electricity, why couldn’t we? This would have solved all these dependency problems for us”.

Mútua negotiated with Enagás, the Spanish gas distributor, the arrival in Andorra of a branch of the gas pipeline planned for La Seu d’Urgell. The project foresaw generation of electricity and the distribution of gas and hot water to the parish. It was blocked, in the first instance, by a negative technical report from Feda. Public opinion, moreover, was reticent about the arrival of this fuel. The population was still very sensitized by the accident of the gas deposit of the Massana following the last great floods in the country, in 1982. Even so, neither of the two obstacles would have been a real impediment, according to those responsible for that Junta. The negotiations were suspended when Feda offered the country’s four territorial distributors (Mútua, Nord Andorrà, Sercensa and Unión Eléctrica de Encamp) to join a company that had to provide service to the entirety of Andorra. Nord Andorrà and Mútua came together. It was the beginning of the creation of Fedasa.

Radeau d’eau d’Arcalís

The rebirth of the Mutual

The frustrated fusion with Feda left the Mútua touched in the internal structures, and very weak in relation to the network. The institution needed, first of all, a technical manager who could carry out this task. “We had to find the right person for the technical direction,” says Àlvarez Marfany, “and it happened by chance. In 2001, Emili Grau Tor, president of Mútua at the beginning of the 80s, very committed to the institution; passed away. His son, Joan Carles Grau, a telecommunications engineer, returned for a few days to Sant Julià from Barcelona, where he worked. “I offered him the technical direction of the Mútua,” says Alvarez Marfany. “I don’t know what he thought, but he agreed.”

Joan Carles Grau, Johnny, went ahead with the restructuring of the lines that the parish needed. “We had a Christmas tree structure,” remembers Carles Àlvarez, “any problem in any area left the whole village without electricity”. The new technical director found that “for twelve years, investments had been postponed. We had a problem: there were breakdowns often,” says Grau. The plan was “very ambitious and set out to do in just three years what Fedasa had promised to do in a dozen”. Then the current robustness of the Mutual network began. The technical director defends that today it has a capacity that is well above current needs, and that it could now absorb the consumption expected in 50 years’ time. The current president of the Mútua, Joan Albert Farré, assures that “the electric network service is consolidated and updated. The investment and improvement processes are no longer the focus of attention, because the power outages, everything we had suffered, we have already surpassed them, we have already achieved it”.

In 2007, with the help of the Comú, the Mútua entered into the shareholding of the thematic park Naturlandia. The Junta argumentation comes from the very statement of principles of the Statutes of 1914: the attraction of tourism represents another component of progress for the parish. “Naturlandia is on this path, and it has to be a source in the country to generate resources and attract tourism, and the whole country has to benefit from it” points out Josep Pintat Forné, consul major of Sant Julià from 2004 to 2012. Furthermore, for Ferran Miralpeix, “Naturlandia needs electricity; it is an important pole in the country, not only for the parish, because it covers two aspects: the first one, parish development, and the second one makes direct reference to the mutualists because, in the end, if more energy is consumed they will be able to have more dividends”.

As for the main activity of the Mútua, the analysis of the electricity business brings the directive to rethink the need to generate energy, “always from an environmentally sustainable point of view,” defends Farré. The analysis is based on the same premises that prompted us to work on the cogeneration plant project: the intervened margins of the electrical distribution leave very little room for manoeuvre for the company. The environmentally clean component is, for the president, unquestionable. And the driving force behind the legal approval is the Llibre Blanc de l’Energia published in 2012, in the elaboration of which the Mútua has played an active role. The key is Andorra’s energy dependence – it imports 83% of the electricity it consumes – and the technical verification that the capacity to import electricity from neighbouring countries is about to reach the maximum permitted by the infrastructures connecting Spain and France. This is one of the differences with the approach of the cogeneration plant of the late 90s: there is a technical document that recommends that the country work on the generation of clean energy from the country’s natural resources.

Fedasa

“This other project was even better, because it would have consolidated the Mútua. We kept prerogatives and it guaranteed us an income”. Agustí Marfany left the presidency of the Mutua at a time when the creation of the new Fedasa had to be voted on by the General Council. He was succeeded by Carles Álvarez Marfany. The resignation became effective because Marfany Puyoles had a seat and considered that he would have been art and part in the vote.

Fedasa surpassed the parliamentary procedure and the amendments to all the opposition groups, which considered that the entry of private participations in a parapublic company turned citizens into “forced customers of an anonymous company with private capital”, and that was creating a “private monopoly”. They also mentioned the “imbalance in the contributions of the merged entities” and a “possible unconstitutionality” which was, after all, what, once the new company was constituted, made the whole process go backwards.

On 27 October 1999, the Official Gazette of the Principality of Andorra (BOPA) published the Llei de creació de la societat pública Forces Elèctriques d’Andorra, S.A. This text recognised that Feda had achieved the objectives for which it was created, had improved service conditions and had prepared the country’s infrastructures to “face safely the challenges of the 21st century”. The law considered it “appropriate” to promote the restructuring of the electricity sector in Andorra, indicating that it was “technically advisable for the service to be in the hands of a single operator which, in order to maintain energy independence, must be national”, taking into account the “small geographical dimension of the Principality”.

The law dissolved the public entity Feda in order to create, instead, a shareholding company which had to be given the same name, and which had to include Mútua y Nord Andorrà  and at the same time had to remain available for the integration of the other two distributors. Mútua Eléctrica and Nord Andorrà contributed all the facilities to the new company and retained a stake of 6.7% and 9.2%, respectively.

The new company began its journey. Mútua undid its entire electrical operating apparatus. At the same time, the Constitutional Court allowed the appeal of unconstitutionality which, in the debate on the amendments to the entirety, the opposition had already hinted at.

It had not been half a year since the publication of the law creating Fedasa when BOPA itself published, on 12 April 2000, the ruling of the Constitutional Court regarding the appeal of unconstitutionality 99-1-L, dictated on 7 April 2000. The resolution of the judiciary considered the unconstitutionality of the creation of the new society and declared the radical nullity, both of the law and of the effects produced during its period of validity. It considered it proved that it proposed “differentiated legal treatment”, favourable to the companies invited to participate in the merger – the Mútua de Sant Julià, Nord Andorrà, Sercensa and the Mútua de Encamp – and that this treatment was justified, but “despite the fact that the purposes may be constitutionally legitimate, the means used are not. And, therefore, we have to affirm that the Law violates the constitutional principle of equality. It also argued that the normative text violated the principle of legal certainty.

Fedasa had to backtrack and everything had to go back to the previous situation. “We lost a lot of feathers,” says Torrentallé. “We also discovered,” he adds, “that Feda made more money than the Mútua as a supplier”. The president who lived through the Constitutional sentence, Carles Àlvarez Marfany, explains that they had to “start from scratch, really, especially in terms of staff. And then we had to go back up the structures, because, whether you like it or not, during the whole time of negotiations with Feda, the guard had been lowered, postponing investments”.

From now on

The other difference regarding the situation experienced in 1999, is due to the fact that in 2010 the Association of Energy Sector Entities was constituted, formed by the four territorial distributors. “We also invited Feda, but it declined the invitation arguing that its statutes did not allow it to take part,” says Josep Muntané, president of Norte Andorrano and AESE.

The partnership with AESE has allowed Mútua Eléctrica de Sant Julià de Lòria, Nord Andorrà, Sercensa and Mútua d’Encamp to negotiate with Feda and the Government with one single voice, as well as make joint purchases. But the main task carried out in the first years of life has been the participation in the preparation of the Llibre Blanc de l’Energia, and the projection, based on the recommendations of this document, of eight units of electricity production. Of these eight, six are hydraulic units and the other two are wind turbines. The aim of these mini power plants is to contribute to changing the country’s energy balance, which is currently very negative. Andorra imports 83% of the electrical energy it consumes. AESE, with Mútua Eléctrica and Nord Andorrà at the forefront, seeks to reduce this percentage by using natural resources with renewable energies.

Parallel to the development of the joint projects with AESE, which would be managed by a newly created anonymous society, Productora Eléctrica Renovable S.A. – with the participation of Mútua and Nord Andorrà S.A., plus the entry of private shareholders -, Mútua works to attract new projects in the field of energy and new technologies, which can be linked to the corporate purpose current since 1914.

Everything that represents an advance for Sant Julià de Lòria enters the scope of action of the Mutua. This was foreseen by the group of lauredian visionaries who, in the year of the arrival of the road, with the World about to experience the Great War, illuminated the village, taking advantage of the force of the river. In 2016, in order to be able to continue with future projects, Mútua Eléctrica became Mútua Eléctrica de Sant Julià de Lòria S.A.

Cadi Telecom

By 2016, the company AVATEL had offered Mútua the opportunity to invest in a telecommunications operator in La Seu d’Urgell. It was the birth of Compañía Pirenaica de Telecomunicaciones, Cadí S.L.

At present, Cadi Telecom has around 1,500 subscribers to optical fibre and 1,000 to mobile telephony. Cablemutua de Servicios SLU, a company of which Mútua Eléctrica de Sant Julià de Lòria S.A. owns its totality, has a 60% stake in Cadí Telecom.

 

Central PERSA Arcalís

Persa

In 2015, the Government publishes the regulation of the production of electric power in minicentrals of power of less than 500kW and connected to the network.

PERSA presents 8 projects of hydraulic mini-centers.

In June 2016 the construction of the Minicentral of Arcalis with a maximum power of 450kW and an estimated production of 2,000,000 kWh was begun, as a result of the collaboration with the Hble. Common of Ordino and SECNOA. In January of 2017 it is put into operation.

The construction was done with environmental criteria promoting the alternative energies, the water of the Canaleta raft, which when not used to make snow, produces energy. This has allowed the station of Vallnord Arcalís sector to be the first station in Europe and probably from the world to produce the energy necessary to feed the station with renewable energy used within the field of exploitation of it.

SANT JULIÀ DE LÒRIA

A unique natural environment

General view of Sant Julià de Lòria at the beginning of the 20th century. Photo: Archive M.Mas.

“Installation of the power line attached to the Molí Fariner
(photo Fundació Julià Reig) “

100 years

This society, conceived and created at the service of the parish, fulfills one hundred years of existence. Let this be the necessary cohort to continue and persevere in this common task. In memory and homage to the people who made this milestone possible:

Mr. Francisco Cairat Freixes

Mr. Francisco Cairat Freixes

1st President of the Constituent Board of the Mútua Elèctrica of Sant Julià de Lòria.

Photo: Family Cairat’s archive.

Mr. Pere Canturri Moles

Mr. Pere Canturri Moles

1st vice president of the Constituent Board and Treasurer of the Inspection and Administration Board of the Mútua Elèctrica of Sant Julià de Lòria.

Photo: Pere Canturri Family’s Archive.

Mr. Joan Canturri Pallares

Mr. Joan Canturri Pallares

1st Secretary of the Constituent Board of the Mútua Elèctrica of Sant Julià de Lòria.

Photo: Joan Canturri Family’s Archive.

Mr. Julià Reig Roqueta

Mr. Julià Reig Roqueta

1st President of the Inspection and Administration Board of the Mútua Elèctrica of Sant Julià de Lòria.

Photo: Reig Family’s Archive.

Mr. Anton Huguet

Mr. Anton Huguet

1st vice president of the Inspection and Administration Board of the Mútua Elèctrica of Sant Julià de Lòria.

Photo: Pujol Family’s Archive.

Mr. Agustí Marfany

Mr. Agustí Marfany

1st Secretary of the Board of Inspection and Administration of the Mútua Elèctrica of Sant Julià de Lòria.

Photo: Agustí Marfany Family’s Archive.

Telephone

+376 741 700

Location

Av. Francesc Cairat, 28, Sant Julià de Lòria

Email
mutua@mutuaelectrica.com

Schedule

Monday to Thursday:
9 - 14 h and 15 - 19 h
Friday:
9- 15 h
Emergencies: 24 h

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