JPS, OUR spar over guaranteed standards, paymentsWednesday, January 27, 2021
THE Jamaica Public Service (JPS) said yesterday that it was shocked and disappointed about the Office of Utilities Regulation's (OUR) news release issued earlier in the day, indicating that the light and power company owes customers millions of dollars for guaranteed standard breaches.
“We are surprised by the timing of this release from the OUR, given the fact that JPS is awaiting the response of the Ministry of Science Energy and Technology (MSET) on our application for the invocation of the force majeure clause in the licence that governs our operations,” said Winsome Callum, JPS director of corporate communications.
“Like many other businesses, JPS has also been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that, while it took the necessary measures to provide service to our customers within the framework of the guaranteed service levels, we were constrained by the pandemic, and this led to underperformance in some areas. The multiple orders and actions taken by the Government of Jamaica, under the Disaster Risk Management Act during the period March 13, 2020 to date, have resulted in significant restrictions on the movement of persons, including work from home orders, curfews, isolation and the quarantine of sections of the island, all of which have severely restricted normal business activities. In particular, quarantines were imposed on the entire parish of St Catherine, sections of Kingston and St Andrew, Clarendon, St Thomas, St James, Portland and St Mary,” said the JPS director.
The OUR, in its release, said JPS customers was owed $75.2 million in payments for 34,535 breaches of the guaranteed standards during the 2020 April-June, and 2020 July-September quarters.
“Data contained in the latest Quarterly Performance Report for the 2020 July-September period, published by the Office of Utilities Regulation, show that during the third quarter of last year JPS's compliance report on its guaranteed standards' performance indicated that 18,556 breaches were committed. These breaches attracted compensatory payments of approximately $40.2 million to affected customers. No payments have, however, been made as JPS has advised that it is awaiting the response from the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology regarding its request to suspend the guaranteed standards because of the island being designated a disaster area due to the impact of COVID-19 since 2020 March. The guaranteed standards related to estimated bills, reconnection and connection to supply accounted for the highest incidents of JPS' breaches. These standards accounted for approximately 99 per cent of breaches and compensatory payments, respectively,” the OUR release said.
“Similarly, JPS's compliance report on its guaranteed standards' performance for the 2020 April-June quarter indicated that 15,969 breaches were committed. This represents an increase of 22 per cent, when compared with the preceding period. These breaches attracted compensatory payments of approximately $35 million,” added the OUR.
The JPS said last evening that it exhausted all measures to continue providing service to its customers, and to meet the guaranteed and overall standards as well as its various performance targets.
“Despite the company's exemption from certain restrictions imposed by the Government, JPS had to implement its own safety measures to contain the spread of the virus amongst its workforce and to ultimately continue providing service. However, despite our best efforts, the usual quality of service to customers between the period March 2020 to date, was impacted and it is anticipated to continue for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, however, it should be noted that there are 17 guaranteed standards for the electricity sector, and JPS is over 95 per cent compliant overall,” said the light and power company.
The company said it takes pride in upholding its obligation to make breach payments, especially in light of the fact that they are automatically paid to customers.
“JPS wishes to assure its customers, that as soon as it receives confirmation, one way or another, on its application due to the pandemic, it will immediately carry out the instructions, as it usually does. The company reiterates its commitment to delivering high-quality service and continued developments which benefit customers islandwide.”
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