OUR institutes new meter-testing protocol for electricity, water
The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has established a new meter-testing protocol to provide an appropriate framework for the verification and testing of existing and future meters used in the Jamaican electricity and water sectors.
The protocol provides guidance to service providers regarding the inspection and testing, as well as the quality and accuracy, of equipment or measuring devices used in connection with the prescribed utility services.
The OUR says that it decided to undertake a complete review of the Electricity Meter Testing Protocol 2005 based on, among other considerations, increased customer complaints and requests for independent testing of utility meters installed at their premises.
It was also based on notification from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) signalling the restructuring of the organisation, which had implications for the meter-testing process, including cost requirements.
The OUR says that the Meter-Testing Protocol 2017 was developed on a fair and transparent basis and incorporated a comprehensive consultation process, which took into consideration comments provided by the relevant stakeholders.
Among the considerations that were not apart of the Electricity Meter-Testing Protocol 2005 that have been factored into the Meter-Testing Protocol 2017 are provisions for the inspection, testing, and accuracy verification of revenue meters used in the water sector.
The provisions became effective on October 17, according to the meter-testing administrative and operational protocol for the electricity and water sectors signed by OUR chairman Joseph M. Matalon.
Among other things, the protocol provides individual electricity and water customers the opportunity to be able to directly request accuracy checks on meters installed at their premises.
The OUR says that in order to restrict a multitude of unreasonable requests for meter-accuracy verification checks to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) and the National Water Commission (NWC), which has cost implications, customers will be solely responsible for the applicable costs associated with more than one such check per 12-month period.
That is so unless the results indicate that the JPS meter accuracy is outside the plus or minus two per cent tolerance allowed or unless the NWC meter accuracy is outside the plus or minus five per cent tolerance.
If the results validate that the meter is working within the prescribed tolerance, the customer shall not pay for the cost of testing if, in the case of both the JPS and the NWC, a previous check was performed more than 12 months before.
However, the customer will pay the cost if the meter is tested and found to be working within the prescribed tolerance and another check was performed less than 12 months before.
If the JPS, the NWC, or other water-service provider results show that a meter is operating outside the required tolerance, the customer shall not pay the cost of testing, regardless of the time that elapsed between the most recent request for a meter-accuracy verification check and the previous request.
Requests for meter-accuracy verification checks within the prescribed 12-month period are not applicable to other water-service providers, and customers are responsible for the applicable costs unless the results indicate that it is outside of the plus or minus five per cent tolerance allowed.
The OUR says that in instances where a meter-accuracy verification check shows that the meter is operating outside the required tolerance and there is sufficient evidence showing that the cause of such deviation is due to meter tampering related to electricity or water theft, the customer shall pay the cost of testing.
If the OUR requests that the BSJ or any approved meter-testing entity perform an accuracy verification check because of failure by the JPS, the NWC, or other water-service providers to respond to a customer's request to do so in the stipulated time, the utility concerned shall bear the cost.
If the OUR requests that the BSJ or another entity perform a verification check as part of an appeal or investigation and the results show that the meter is working outside of the required tolerance, the relevant utility shall also be responsible for all the associated costs.
However, the OUR shall be responsible for the costs if the results show that the meter is working within the required tolerance level.
If a customer requests the BSJ or another entity to perform an accuracy check and the results show that the meter is working outside of the required tolerance ,the relevant utility shall be responsible for all the associated costs.
However, if a customer requests that the BSJ or another entity perform an accuracy check and the results show that the meter is working within the prescribed tolerance, the customer shall be responsible for the applicable costs.