KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica Public Service (JPS) is proposing a late-payment fee instead of disconnection among measures to improve service and reduce the impact of high electricity costs.
The Company in a statement Tuesday evening said it plans to include the proposed initiatives in a submission to the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) in March. If approved, these initiatives will take effect in July 2013.
Among the proposed initiatives are: an industrial tariff for large businesses; an incentive for customers who pay their bills on time; a late payment fee to be applied in lieu of automatic disconnection; and a prepaid metering system which is to be rolled out on a phased basis.
Incentives for businesses
The energy company has indicated that it is prepared to offer a 25 per cent reduction on the non-fuel rate paid by large industrial customers, who represent 20 per cent of JPS’ overall revenue.
“This reduction will ultimately benefit all our customers,” JPS president Kelly Tomblin said. “In addition to enhancing the viability of Jamaica’s businesses, an industrial tariff will help to keep overall costs down for all other customer groups,” she said.
Incentives for on-time payment and late payment fee
Instead of utilising disconnections as a first response to late payments, JPS said that an incentive will be introduced to encourage on-time bill payment. The proposal is to introduce this incentive in conjunction with a late payment fee, which could facilitate a longer grace period for customers in arrears.
According to a statement from the Energy Ministry, the JPS will introduce a $250 incentive for residential customers paying bills in full and on time, and a $250 penalty for paying after the due date. The utility will no longer disconnect consumers who are a month or less past due, the ministry said.
JPS said it embarked on a pilot project to introduce prepaid meters by mid-2013. This is one of several technology-driven initiatives currently being explored by the company to improve service to customers, the statement said. Among the other new systems to be implemented by JPS are a new Customer Information System and an Outage Management System.