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JPS billing calculations accurate, OUR finds

Published:Friday | October 16, 2020 | 12:16 AM

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) yesterday announced that higher consumption since March was a significant factor behind increasing electricity bills based on its probe into complaints by Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) customers.

The agency said such increases were expected as more people, including children, had been staying home since the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The billing parameter that accounted for the highest proportion of the change in average electricity bills, however, was the fuel and IPP charge. Notably, this component of the bill would have been driven by both an increase in average electricity consumption and an increase in the fuel and IPP rate,” the OUR said.

It said that an examination of the JPS’s billing accuracy revealed that the company’s billing calculations were largely compliant with the terms of the 2018-2019 rate schedule – 99.73 per cent accuracy for residential customers between January and May and 99.95 per cent for small commercial accounts.

“There were several anomalies in JPS’s billing, but these did not significantly impact the increases in the bills. Notwithstanding, JPS will be asked to provide clarification on these anomalies as part of a further investigation,” the OUR said, adding that “an independent audit of JPS’s billing system is not needed at this point”.

The utilities regulator said it would be seeking to address a number of outlier issues identified in its investigation, including the JPS’s failure to comply with the regulator’s directives pertaining to the number of billing days permitted.

The JPS yesterday said it was moving to address the issue regarding billing days, saying that bills were now being set at 31 days.

It also said it had been tackling the OUR’s concern that residential customers were not being notified in the event of a 30 per cent increase or decrease in consumption over the previous month’s reading.