Sociologist from Malta

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Consumers getting higher energy bills - David Agius & Michael Briguglio

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Malta Today 13 June 2018

Thanks to a few vigilant citizens, it has become apparent that the ARMS’s billing system is illegal and one which owes thousands of consumers anything between a few euro to a few hundreds of euros each.  Malta now boasts a monopoly (ENEMALTA) which employs another entity (ARMS) to issue bills. These bills are not being issued as the law states clearly, that is “a Consumption Tariff based on a cumulative consumption per annum.”
This means that the bills are being issued more frequently, every two months, with accumulating interest rates and a threat of being cut off the grid (plus fee to re-instate) if they do not pay.
Every two months, ARMS is cheating consumers out of their yearly quotas:
By splitting up bills into shorter periods, consumers quickly start to pay at much higher rates than the promised 10c5. Actual two-monthly bills means that annual quotas of tariffs 2,000 units at 10c5 and 4,000 units at 12c9 are being cut up into smaller quotas.
Even if the consumers stay within the total annual quota, they are getting billed at higher bands. Consumers can end up paying at rates six times higher – at over 60c per kwh.
Many families are also losing their eco-reduction. A family of seven or a single resident both get the same 2,000 units at 10c5.
But a family of seven used to get a discount if it stayed under an annual quota. With two-month bills, this too is being lost in certain cases.
Thanks to two-month actual bills (pay or incur interest) ARMS also gets to enjoy a strong two-monthly cash flow – at the consumers’ expense.
Another problem is the fact that many tenants are paying domestic rates rather than residential rates, which means that they have no chance to enjoy the eco-reduction and they pay at higher rates.
The worst hit are large families, pensioners and foreigners living here – so much for family friendly measures and attracting people to Malta.   
And another set of issues still relates to the PV generation not being registered. So much for renewables.
There is the huge number of mistakes being made by ARMS which results in hundreds of people visiting their offices (co-incidentally one of them located inside the GWU building).
All these problems work in favour of ARMS. None of the errors favour the consumer.
Of course, ARMS send consumers to check their meter (at a fee), or to blame the “Estimate” or “No reading”. Sometimes they blame the law. But this has little to do with the meter, nor with the law.
It only has to do with the new procedure which ARMS is employing despite the fact that the law is clear.
This abusive behaviour by a dominant monopolist needs to be regulated by Regulator for Energy and Water Services (REWS), the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA), and the European Union needs to take action.
But failing that, we promise, that if it is necessary, we can take further action ourselves and file a class action lawsuit on behalf of consumers who are owed their money back.
Furthermore, Adrian Delia, Leader of the Nationalist Party, has already made it clear that a PN government would give back this stolen money to our families.
This matter has been further confirmed by Eurostat. It was clearly stated that Malta registered the third highest increase in electricity prices across Europe. The Eurostat news release stated that “Across the EU Member States, the highest increase in household electricity prices, was registered in Cyprus, followed by Romania and Malta (+7.1%).”
This statistic is for the years 2016 and 2017, a period when the energy
prices were stable.
Consequently, this is yet another proof that the Maltese and Gozitan people are paying more for their energy and water bills.
This is another confirmation that our first sample of 100 bills is correct.
The Nationalist Party will keep voicing people’s concerns: the same people who are receiving more frequent and more expensive utility bills; the same people who were promised cheaper utility bills by Konrad Mizzi but who are now subsidising the Azerbaijani gas provider by $40 million a year.
The Nationalist Party was, is and will continue to be the people’s party. People should not be robbed. We are determined not to let this daylight robbery continue. 
The Nationalist Party is ready to take legal action to ensure that people are not robbed.
We are following the matter closely in this regard.

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