Thousands of Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) customers are to start receiving credit to their bills, totalling $221 million in compensation payments for breaches of the guaranteed standards by the light and power company between March 2020 and September 2021.
The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) announced its approval of the phased payments yesterday.
The decision comes after Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz turned down the JPS's request for a wholesale suspension of the guaranteed standards.
The company had made the request on the basis that the continued adverse impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic presented force majeure conditions and warranted being excused from compliance with the guaranteed and overall standards under its 2016 Electricity Licence.
“The minister communicated his final decision to JPS in a letter dated 2021 October 7, indicating that he is upholding a previous decision to only grant a limited waiver of penalties for just two guaranteed standards. These are EGS1 (new and simple connection to supply) for 2020 March 13-June 30 and EGS7 (the number of consecutive estimated bills allowed) for 2020 March only, with accounts served by smart meters exempted from this waiver. As a result of the minister's decision, JPS is mandated to pay an accumulated $220,989,262.27 to affected customers for breaches committed between 2020 March and 2021 September,” the OUR stated in a media release.
Under the guaranteed standards, JPS customers should receive no more than two estimated bills once the utility has access to customers' meters, the length of time it should take for reconnection, completion of investigations, connection of new supply, adjusting an account after an error is identified, and changing meters. The standards also set out the method of calculating estimated bills.
The OUR noted that the JPS had cited cash flow issues in requesting a payment schedule, and the regulator had approved the schedule after validating the accuracy of JPS's figures.
Additionally, the regulator advised, JPS resumed its monthly payment in November to affected customers for breaches of the standards committed in October this year.
For breaches committed between March and May 2021, the rebates were applied last month; for June to August 2020, rebates are to be applied this month; for September to November 2020, credit is to be applied in January; for December 2020 to February 2021, rebates are to be applied in March, and for June to September 2021, payments will be applied in April 2022.