Utility companies pay out over $34m for breaches over 3-month period — OUR

Utility companies pay out over $34m for breaches over 3-month period — OUR

Saturday, December 14, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Utility companies paid out over $34 million for service breaches between July and September2019, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) is reporting.

According to OUR, the amount was paid out as a result of breaches of the Guaranteed Standards and actions taken on behalf of customers by the regulatory body.

The data, contained in the OUR's 2019 July – September Quarterly Performance Report, indicated that for the period, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) paid out approximately $33.4 million and the National Water Commission (NWC) $464,760 for breaches of the Guaranteed Standards.

Noting that the sum of $227,432 was secured for utility customers through action taken by the OUR's Consumer Affairs Unit, the body said JPS accounted for the highest share of 74 per cent, while Columbus Communications (Flow) and C&WJ accounted for 16 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

OUR said that JPS's compliance report on its Guaranteed Standards performance indicates that 16,261 breaches were committed, representing a five per cent decrease in the number of breaches compared to the preceding quarter. These breaches attracted compensatory payments of approximately $33.4 million, all of which were made through automatic compensation, OUR added.

“The Guaranteed Standards regarding estimated bills (which restricts JPS from sending more than two consecutive estimates without a penalty), connection to supply (which prescribes the time within which JPS is to make a simple connection), and reconnection (which requires that JPS restores supply within 24 hours of payment of overdue amounts) accounted for approximately 99 per cent of breaches and payments,” an OUR release indicated.

In addition, OUR said that during the quarter, NWC reported that it paid out $464,760 for breaches of the Guaranteed Standards which indicated that a total of 659 breaches were committed — representing a 70 per cent increase.

“These breaches had a potential pay-out of approximately $1.8 million while actual payments amounted to $464,760. The actual payments represented 21 per cent of the total potential payments and were made by way of automatic credits to the affected accounts. The remaining 79 per cent of potential payments not made, were for breaches for which the required claim forms were not submitted,” OUR explained.

OUR said the standards with the highest incidents of breaches for the NWC were; access (which requires that new service connections are made within 10 working days), meter installation (which stipulates that meters should be installed within 30 working days upon request) and meter reading (which stipulates that meters are to be repaired/replaced within 20 working days of identified or reported defects). These three standards represented 79 per cent of total breaches and 78 per cent of potential payments, the regulatory body added.

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