WITHOUT a great deal of publicity, a number of the larger electricity companies introduced a new method of charging for electricity based on hourly usage with each hour having a different tariff which can also change depending upon the day of usage.
In theory, there could be 168 different tariffs each week and even they could change depending on whether it’s a windy day as, if it is, more wind power comes into play and electricity could get cheaper.
Organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau seem a little ambivalent as to whether there will be any real saving although they think that, on balance, there may be. They do point out, however, that a high percentage of the bill from the electric companies is in respect of taxes and fixed charges rather than consumer usage.
They also point out that all those with a tele-operated digital metre and on a contract with the PVPC (Precio Voluntario al Pequeño Consumidor) tariff will be affected by this change. Those on a contract that offers a fixed price for a whole year are not.
Practically all electricity companies can offer an hour-to-hour billing system, but the system as regulated by the state can only be offered by ‘commercializadores de referencia’ amongst which are Endesa, Iberdrola, Gas Natural Fenosa, EDP España y E.ON España. With the new regulation in force, more companies can join if they meet certain requisites.
There is some confusion as to the likely cost of changing the metre (and the government aim is for all metres to be replaced by 2018) but according to information we have received over the telephone, one of the ‘main players’ has indicated a €9 charge for changing the metre followed by an 81cent monthly rental charge.
Beware the unscrupulous who may try to take advantage of this change and always contact your electricity supplier as they are the ideal company to make any changes for you.
It would be almost impossible for any consumer to be completely aware of all of the costs, but it is fairly obvious that peak charges are likely in the morning and the evening whilst low costs are more likely after midnight and at weekends, especially Sundays.
This change will affect everyone who uses electricity over the next three years, but whether the companies have come up with a solution which will benefit the consumer is yet to be seen and the fact that no consumer organisation was consulted in the drawing up of these plans may be ominous.