Billions overpaid in water fees?

09.06.2021 - 10:36
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Neytendasamtökin, the Consumers’ Association of Iceland, estimates that water utilities around the country have over-charged customers billions of krónur since the law regulating the provision of water to homes and businesses changed in 2016.

The Association calls on the Ministry of Transport and Local Government to monitor whether the laws are being followed and to force companies to refund customers what they have overpaid. 

No profits

The ministry concluded in 2019 that Veitur (a subsidiary of Orkuveita Reykjavíkur/Reykjavík Energy) had over charged its customers for water. 

Under the law, water charges were only supposed to cover costs, and not provide the company with any profit. Following this, Veitur refunded its customers 500 million krónur in over-paid water bills for 2016. 

Call for ministry involvement 

The ruling sets a precedent for all water utilities in all municipalities, though it was not until last week that the ministry issued guidelines on how utilities must set their charges with specific regard to the 2019 verdict. 

Breki Karlsson, the chairman of the consumers’ association, says it is hard to guess whether, and how much, individual companies have over charged their customers, or whether they have made efforts to stop since the decision was announced. The reason for that uncertainty is that water provision and sewerage processing are not separated in companies’ accounting. 

“We have sent a request to the ministry calling on it to, first of all, make sure that water charges will be correct and the law followed, and also that consumers will be refunded over-paid fees,” Breki told RÚV radio. 

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager