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Customers get over $39 million for utility companies service breaches

Friday, July 12, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) is reporting that utility customers received over $39 million in 2019 between January and March from utility providers for service breaches.

The OUR, in a statement a short while ago, pointed to its latest Quarterly Performance Report for 2019 January – March, which revealed that $39,409,921.36 was paid out to utility customers over the period because of breaches of the Guaranteed Standards and as a result of intervention by the OUR's Consumer Affairs Unit.

The OUR said, “JPS' compliance report on its Guaranteed Standards performance indicated that 17,910 breaches were committed, representing a 4 per cent increase compared to the preceding quarter.

The OUR said these breaches attracted compensatory payments of approximately $37.31 million, which were made through automatic compensation.

The company said the estimated bills accounted for approximately 93 per cent of compensatory payments. This guaranteed standard restricts JPS from sending more than two consecutive estimates without attracting a penalty.

“The NWC's Guaranteed Standards compliance report indicates that 530 breaches were committed by the utility, a 12 per cent decrease, compared with the preceding quarter. These breaches had a potential pay-out of approximately $1.84 million. However, actual payments were $1 million and were made via automatic credits.

“The Guaranteed Standards with the highest incidents of breaches for the NWC were: Meter Repair/Replacement, which stipulates that meter repairs or replacements are to be completed within 20 working days; Access, which requires that new service connections are to be made within 10 working days; Meter Reading, which restricts the NWC to sending no more than two consecutive estimates, where it has access to its meter; and Meter Installation, which stipulates that meters should be installed within 30 working days upon request. These four standards represented 83% of potential payments,” the OUR added.

In addition to the payouts for Guaranteed Standards breaches, the OUR said its Consumer Affairs Unit secured $1,099,921.36 for utility customers.

Of this amount, JPS, NWC, Columbus Communications (Flow) and the small water provider, Can-Cara accounted for 86 per cent, 9 per cent, 4 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively.

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