THE Balearic government's Department of Industry has agreed to force electricity company GESA to reinvoice some half a million clients in the Balearic Islands after they received invoices charging them for usage in the latter part of 2008 but with tariffs at 2009 levels.

Regional Energy Minister, Francesca Vives explained yesterday that the order relates to GESA customers who have contracted an electricity supply of up to 10 kilowatts. She said that the company will need to reinvoice based on actual metre readings as opposed to estimated ones, and that the company will be obliged to return the overcharged sum to these clients. At the same time, Consumer Affairs director, Diego Gonzalez said that he is considering opening up a case for GESA to be fined as judicially customer rights have been violated. He added though that the legal process could take up to four months to complete.

Vives said that GESA will have up to 1st April to correctly recalculate the invoices and that in practice refunding to consumers will be expedited through crediting the bills. The government order, said Vives, has already been sent to GESA. She hoped that the company would respond favourably because “this is a legal matter, and it is in the interests of the company to respect it.” The minister said that following the episode in which the electricity company had sent out “disproportionately high” invoices, she was very pleased with the work that her department had done behind the scenes to come to grips with the outcry from customers and find out just what had really happened. Meanwhile, a Parliamentary committee will be voting today on whether it should request that the president of GESA, Bartomeu Reus, appear in person to explain the changes in the new tariff system and invoicing which was introduced last month.

The debate has been prompted by six Socialist MPs who are members of the committee wanting Reus to clarify how monthly electricity bills have shot up “by up to 100 percent” in comparison with the same month in 2008. A spokesman for the committee said that “people have been really shocked by the price hikes.” He added that Reus is not obliged to present himself before the committee, in which case an official investigation will need to be undertaken.