OUR says suspension of NWC guaranteed standards won't affect customers negatively

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OUR says suspension of NWC guaranteed standards won't affect customers negatively

Monday, May 18, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) says the suspension of four guaranteed standards for the National Water Commission (NWC) will not negatively impact customers' bills or disruption to their water supply.

The OUR announced last month that it had accepted a request from the NWC to suspend four of its guaranteed standards for three months, from April 1 to June 30.

The NWC cited constraints caused by the measures implemented by the Government to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and its own precautionary islandwide measures to address staff and public health and safety concerns, as the reasons for the suspension.

The OUR said that the suspension of guaranteed standards is not new and is considered where the utility indicates circumstances that are outside of its control that may reasonably impair its ability to achieve the standards.

“For instance, last year, the OUR agreed to temporarily put on hold two of these currently suspended NWC Standards (WGS7 & 8), as a result of delays in meter testing by the Bureau of Standards, which impacted NWC's delivery schedule to customers. Guaranteed Standards have also been suspended for the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) following a major hurricane, to allow the company the opportunity to focus its resources on restoring services islandwide in the shortest possible time. In all instances, these decisions were made public,” the regulator said in a statement.

Director of Consumer and Public Affairs at the OUR, Yvonne Nicholson said, “the OUR has always taken seriously, its role to protect the interest of customers. It is for that reason why we implemented the guaranteed standards, and conduct regular reviews of JPS's and NWC's performance against them.

“The OUR's decision does not impact access to current water supply as customers who report faulty meters, for example, will continue to receive water supply. In such instances, they will be expected to continue to pay the average of their last three actual readings until the problem is rectified.”

The utilities regulator said under the NWC's guaranteed standard, the commission should ensure that estimated bills are based on an average of the last three ACTUAL meter readings. Any variation from this methodology is a breach, and affected customers will be automatically compensated on their next bill. This compensation is equivalent to four times the service charge.

The OUR said where a spike is noticed, provisions are in place for customers to lodge their complaints to the NWC before the due date, and pay their usual amount while the matter is investigated. If customers remain dissatisfied with the NWC's action, they can contact the OUR via email: consumer@our.org.jm, by telephone: 876-968-6053, or through its social media pages.

NWC customers are invited to contact the NWC or the OUR if they need further clarification as a result of the suspension of these four Guaranteed Standards.


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