New rules for water and gas meters come into effect on Friday

On the face of it, it’s very clear that ‘get tough’ rules on water and gas emissions meters come into effect tomorrow (Friday April 28), and that non-compliance could lead to hefty new fines.

But Diário de Notícias explains that it’s not really cut and dried at all.

Despite the fact that Portugal was given two months to bring its rules into line with EU law in December 2016 (in other words, the country is coming in 14 months too late) there are to be ‘provisos’. The kind of provisos that will create massive confusion.

For example, the ‘transitory adaptation regime’ will allow people who purchased equipment before April 20 2016 which (at the time) complied with regulations, to be allowed to retain the equipment the way it is “until the validity deadline of approval of that (particular) model” expires.

If the equipment (for some reason) has no validity of approval deadline, then it will be deemed to have been in default since October 30 2016.

The incoming rules are also waived for meters used in “fairs, exhibitions, demonstrations and other similar events”, says DN – as long there is a written message “in clearly visible letters, “indicating that the products do not comply with the (new) requisites”. And “as long as said products “are not placed in service before being put into conformity”.

Is that all clear, then?

DN does not make any issue of the fact that the new rules come into effect as businesses everywhere are about to launch into a new summer season, and will want all their licences and paperwork faultless and up-to-date.

The ‘decreto-lei’ published in State newspaper Diário da República stresses that fines for non-compliance will “vary between €1,000 and €45,000”, depending on whether users are registered as ‘single people’ or a ‘collective of people’.

“The evaluation and control of organisms that evaluate the conformity of meters is now passing to IPAC, the Portuguese institute of accreditation, as the national organism of accreditation”, adds DN helpfully. “But checking for compliance according to the decreto-lei published today will fall to ASAE, the authority of food and economic safety, in its capacity of the market’s checking authority”.

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