Automatic compensation for JPS breaches starts this month
Starting yesterday, customers of the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) will now be automatically compensated for any breach of its guaranteed standards.
In a release, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) said this marks the final phasing out of written claims made by customers to the light and power company.
"The phasing out of written claims started June 1, 2015. The Office of Utilities Regulation had determined that in keeping with Condition 17 of the All Island Electric Licence (2011), breaches of all guaranteed standards will attract automatic compensation," the utilities regulator said.
"Therefore, affected customers will no longer be required to submit a claim form to receive compensation when a breach has occurred."
Compensation to affected JPS residential customers is equivalent to the reconnection fee, while commercial customers receive four times the customer charge for any breach.
Delay in making payments to such customers is another breach, which will attract compensation of up to eight periods of non-compliance.
The guaranteed standards are performance measures that guide the provision of utility services delivered by the JPS, the National Water Commission and small water providers.
Currently, there are a total of 17 standards which measure service delivery in the areas of access to service, investigation of customer complaints, billing, metering, disconnection and reconnection of service.
OUR Director of Consumer and Public Affairs Yvonne Nicholson said although customers will no longer have to claim for breaches, they should continue to be vigilant and responsive in identifying any breaches and hold the utility provider accountable.
"In the latter part of 2015, JPS identified that although it committed breaches valued at over $132 million, they paid out only $36 million. This is because customers were not claiming. With the full conversion to automatic status, customers will no longer have to submit a written claim, but we encourage them to remain vigilant," she said.
Copies of all guaranteed standards can be found on the OUR's website, www.our.org.jm, or at any of the utility companies' customer service centres islandwide.
The remaining JPS guaranteed standards which will now attract automatic compensation as at June 1, 2016 are: EGS3 - Response to emergency - JPS should respond to emergency calls within five (5) hours. Emergencies include broken wires, broken poles and fires.
EGS 5(a) - Acknowledgments - JPS must acknowledge written queries within five working days.
EGS 5(b) - Investigations - JPS must complete investigations and respond to a customer within 30 working days. Where investigations involve a third party, same is to be completed within 60 working days
EGS 7 - Estimated bills - Customers should not receive more than two consecutive estimated bills where the company has access to the meter.