Sunday 18 August, 2019

JPS, NWC pay out over $36 million for standards breaches

Customers of the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) and the National Water Commission (NWC) were paid more than $36 million between April and June 2018, for service standards breaches.

This is a 13 decline over the preceding quarter where the two utilities paid out some $41.5m to its customers.

This information is contained in the April-June 2018 Quarterly Performance Report (QPR), published by the Consumer Affairs Unit (CAU) at the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR).

Compensation paid by JPS during the April-June 2018 quarter amounted to approximately $35.37 million for breaches of its Guaranteed Standards.

JPS’ compliance report indicated that 17,634 breaches were committed, which represents a 12 per cent decline in the number of breaches compared to the preceding quarter.

All compensatory payments were made through automatic compensation to customers’ accounts. Frequency of estimated bills accounted for approximately 93 per cent of breaches.

The NWC reported that it committed 632 breaches during this reporting period, representing a 75 per cent increase in the number of breaches over the preceding quarter.

The potential pay-out by NWC was $2,176,260. However, actual payments amounted to $768,200, representing 35 per cent of total potential payments. All actual payments were made by way of automatic credits to the affected accounts.

The remaining 65 per cent of potential payments not made, represented those breaches for which the required claim forms were not submitted by affected customers.

Through the intervention of the OUR’s Consumer Affairs Unit (CAU), $87,708.27 was secured for utility customers. Of this, C&WJ (Flow) and Columbus Communications (FLOW) accounted for two per cent and 53 per cent respectively with the NWC accounting for the remaining 45 per cent.

During the April-June 2018 period, the number of contacts to the CAU decreased by 30 per cent to 714, compared with the preceding quarter. Contacts relating to billing matters (-31 per cent), service interruption (-39 per cent) and service connection (-39 per cent) accounted for the most significant declines over the preceding period. Despite the reduction in contacts during the quarter in review, billing concerns (48 per cent) continued to be the main reason for customers contacting the CAU.

The OUR also receives reports from JPS and NWC on their performance in notifying customers within a specified timeline ahead of planned service disruptions. This is also part of the Overall Standards for JPS and the performance targets for the NWC.

For the review period, JPS reported a 53.7 per cent compliance rating in meeting this standard (EOS 1), which represents a 6.7 percentage point decline over the preceding period. The JPS’ target is to provide 48 hours’ advance notice in all instances of a planned outage.

NWC attained a 95 per cent compliance rating with its standard that requires them to provide at least 24 hours’ advance notice prior to disruptions of a duration greater than 4 hours, in at least 90 per cent of instances of planned disruptions.

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