Friday 3 April, 2020

Utility customers get over $147 million for service breaches in 2019

Utility companies paid out over $147 million to customers for breaches of service standards in 2019.

The information was reported in the Office of Utilities Regulation’s (OUR’s) Quarterly Performance Report for the fourth quarter - October to December 2019.

When combined, the pay-outs for breaches of the Guaranteed Standards by Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) and the National Water Commission (NWC), as well as the sum paid to affected customers by the utility providers as a result of OUR’s intervention, was about $147.5 million in 2019.

JPS accounted for most of the breaches of the Guaranteed Standards in 2019 as it reported it committed a total of 68,249 breaches. This represents a five per cent reduction compared with those committed in 2018.

Compensation associated with these breaches was approximately $142.5 million, all of which was paid out through automatic compensation.

During 2019, the NWC committed a total of 2,096 breaches during 2019 which attracted potential compensation of approximately $7.2 million.

Actual payments however amounted to approximately $2.2 million, representing 31 per cent of total potential compensation.

The remaining 69 per cent was not paid as the required claim forms were not submitted. The number of breaches committed by the NWC in 2019 represents a two per cent reduction over 2018.

The total sum secured for utility consumers for 2019 as a result of the direct intervention of the OUR’s Consumer Affairs Unit, was $2,781,349.

JPS and NWC accounted for 84 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, while the remaining six per cent of credits was accounted for by Columbus Communications (Flow), C&WJ, and private water provider, CanCara

In the 2019 October to December quarter, NWC reported that it exceeded the Performance Target on the frequency of notification of service interruptions to customers.

This target requires NWC to maintain a 98 per cent attainment rate for 12 hours’ advance notification of planned service interruptions over a duration of no more than four hours.

Where a planned interruption is expected to be for more than four hours, the NWC is required to give advanced notice of at least 24 hours, at a compliance rate of 90 per cent.

Based on NWC’s notifications to the public, it exceeded the established target by attaining a compliance rating of 100 per cent to provide at least 24 hours’ advance notice for disruptions of a duration greater than four hours.

This is 20 percentage points more than the compliance rating achieved in the previous quarter.

There were five notifications and all were in compliance with the stated target.

JPS on the other hand, reported a decline in its overall standard of notification to customers about planned outages during the 2019 October to December quarter.

The power is required to notify customers of planned outages, allowing at least 48 hours’ (two days’) advance notice. The standard requires that JPS attains a 100 per cent compliance target.

For the review period, JPS reported a 70 per cent compliance rating for this standard, which represents a 12 percentage points decrease over the preceding quarter. The company has advised that it is in the implementation phase of a procedure that has been developed to monitor and measure its performance against this standard.

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