En­ergy Min­is­ter coy on changes to ARMS billing sys­tem or quota ra­tioning; stud­ies are at ‘fi­nal stages’

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

Ju­lian Bon­nici En­ergy Min­is­ter Joe Mizzi was coy as to whether there would be any changes to ARMS billing sys­tem, quota ra­tioning, or the two-month billing sys­tem when speak­ing to The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day.

Mizzi was asked by the news­room to elab­o­rate fur­ther on his state­ments that in­cen­tives were due to be in­tro­duced for peo­ple who are care­ful with their elec­tric­ity consumption through changes in the eco-re­duc­tion mech­a­nism when giv­ing com­ments to Mal­taTo­day.

While stress­ing that there had been an ex­ten­sive study into the is­sue which was in its fi­nal stages, Mizzi would not say whether quota-ra­tioning or changes to the two-month billing sys­tem, which are the cause of much of the con­tro­versy into the mat­ter, would oc­cur, say­ing that anal­y­sis of the stud­ies is tak­ing place at the mo­ment.

Asked whether there were any times frames for the sug­gest pro­pos­als to be­come a re­al­ity, Mizzi said that he does not think of time­frames, ex­plain­ing that he wanted the changes to be im­ple­mented prop­erly.

“I don’t want to take long and we won’t take much longer, but things need to be done prop­erly,” Mizzi said.

Ear­lier this year, is­sues were raised on ARMS billing more fre­quently, re­sult­ing in higher bills. Most peo­ple be­lieve that the dif­fer­ent elec­tric­ity tar­iffs for dif­fer­ent lev­els of consumption ad­ver­tised on the ARMS web­site are based on an­nual consumption.

The prin­ci­ple be­hind the dif­fer­ent tar­iffs is the more you con­sume, the more you pay. Tar­iffs start at 10c5 for the first 2000 units con­sumed, move on to 12c9 for the next 4,000 units, 16c for the next 4000 units af­ter that, 35c for the next 10,000 units and 60c for any­thing be­yond that. The dif­fer­ent rates are charged per house­hold and not per per­son.

De­spite there be­ing no ex­pla­na­tion what­so­ever on the ARMS or Ene­malta web­site or by any politi­cian com­ing from suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments, ARMS has cal­cu­lated bills based on a sys­tem of quota ra­tioning.

It takes the global fig­ures quoted above – for in­stance, 2,000 units at 10c5, and di­vides the units by 365 days (one year) and again mul­ti­plies by the num­ber of days cov­er­ing a par­tic­u­lar bill in ques­tion.

In ef­fect, ARMS is cut­ting up the dif­fer­ently priced units of elec­tric­ity per day, which gives you 5.479 units per day at 10c5, some 10.959 units per day at 12c9 and so on. While peo­ple in smaller house­holds with only one or two peo­ple may not have noticed an in­crease in their bills, be­cause they con­sume their elec­tric­ity more smoothly and may spend a con­sid­er­able time out of the house, fam­i­lies have cer­tainly noticed an in­crease in their bills.

Some have called for the bills to be is­sued every six months so that high consumption may be off­set by low consumption re­sult­ing in a fairer ra­tioning of the quo­tas, while oth­ers say that if ARMS car­ries out a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion ex­er­cise at the end of the year based on an­nual consumption, it could re­bate cus­tomers for any over­pay­ment.

A class-ac­tion law­suit against the billing prac­tice has been launched.

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