After years of different people shouting from every rooftop, Arms is feeling the pressure. It's not the Arms / tenant scam, however, that is getting everybody hot under the collar. Instead it's yet another example of how far away Maltese administrative policy is from being sensible, transparent and fair.
As more and more Smart meters are being read remotely, many households are being billed every 2 months. Many people would welcome receiving bills more frequently so as not to be hit with a massive bill every 6 months.
The Arms billing system is a stepped billing system, with the cost of your consumption increasing the more electricity you consume. This is a good idea - we need every possible incentive to reduce our consumption of electricity. Unfortunately, however, the people over at Arms have not stopped to consider that there is a clear problem with having bills issued every two months.
From the Electricity Supply Regulations, these are the annual allowances at each band on the Residential Tariff:
i) For every kWh of the first 2,000 kWh ..................... €0.1047;
ii) For every kWh of the next 4,000 kWh ................... €0.1298;
iii) For every kWh of the next 4,000 kWh ................... €0.1607;
iv) For every kWh of the next 10,000 kWh ................. €0.3420;
v) For every kWh of the remaining consumption ....... €0.6076.
All well and good. Unfortunately, these quotas are being calculated pro rata every two month billing period. This means that periods of lower consumption will not compensate for periods of higher consumption.
The spreadsheet below totals the consumption of units at the different bands for our household over the last year. I used the second page of six Arms bills to calculate the total number of units at each band. Surprise, surprise - of course, our annual consumption of 8868 units of electricity did not utilize all the quotas at the cheaper rates.
We lost out on 341.22 units of electricity at €0.1298 per unit. We also lost out on 2005.48 units of electricity at €0.1607 per unit. We were also charged at €0.3420 per unit on 1215.01 units of electricity, when we should never have breached the €0.1607 per unit band. Our total consumption was 8868 units of electricity for the year. So how on earth were we charged at the €0.3420 per unit band, if we hadn't breached 10 000 units in the year?
This categorically shows - black on white - that an increased frequency of billing will cost the consumer more than it should. The Electricity Supply Regulations are very clear that these quotas are annual quotas.
The ONLY reason for the disclaimer on the Arms online calculator is that the frequency of the billing has an effect on the cost of the bill. A calculator can never be wrong - the algorithms calculating the cost can never be wrong. This, therefore, is an unjust manipulation of the Arms billing system to make as much money as possible from the consumer, in contravention of the Electricity Supply Regulations. Consumers are being denied their right, under law, to enjoy the full annual quotas at the cheaper rates.