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Utility companies paid $129m for breaches last year — OUR

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has disclosed that the island's public utility companies paid out more than $129 million to customers for service breaches last year.

The utilities regulator said payment resulted either from breaches of the guaranteed standards or credits and compensation secured by the OUR.

In total, the utilities regulator said it secured $129,383,876.97 as a result of breaches by the utility companies, which include the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), the National Water Commission (NWC) as well as telecommunications companies FLOW (C&WJ and Columbus Communications) and Digicel.

The OUR's performance report indicated that JPS committed a total 75,571 breaches last year, which attracted potential compensation of approximately $151.8 million.

However, it noted that the actual payment was approximately $124 million, with more than $38.9 million of that sum being compensated to customers for 19,241 breaches in the October to December 2017 quarter alone.

Meanwhile, the NWC committed a total of 2,561 service breaches last year, which attracted potential compensation of approximately $8.1 million.

Actual payments however amounted to approximately $3.84 million, with more than $1.1 million being paid for 483 breaches in the October to December 2017 quarter, OUR said.

It also revealed that unpaid compensation for the NWC, which totalled $399,774.32, resulted from customers not claiming for breaches.

The payouts were made by way of automatic compensation to affected accounts.

An additional sum of $1.5 million was secured last year in credits and compensation for utility customers through the OUR's actions.

JPS and NWC accounted for 18 per cent and 80 per cent of total credits respectively, with the remaining two per cent being secured from FLOW (C&WJ and Columbus Communications).

With the exception of complaints about equipment damage, OUR said there was a general increase in all other main complaint categories during the October to December 2017quarter.

Service interruption, unavailability of service and disconnection showed the greatest increases over the preceding period at 64 per cent, 45 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.

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