OUR defends anti-theft campaign

OUR defends anti-theft campaign

Friday, July 03, 2020

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THE Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has defended its anti-theft advertising campaign, as it responded to social media criticisms yesterday of an online post.

“The post, which is one in a series of ads that the OUR has been publishing in the major newspapers, on radio stations, and on its social media pages, is part of its long-running multi-media anti-theft public education campaign since 2018. The campaign serves to highlight the impact of infrastructure and other theft which has plagued the utilities providers in the water, electricity, and telecommunication sectors. The intent of the campaign is to highlight consumer responsibility and explain the impact of this larceny, which not only impacts bills, but also causes service disruption and injuries,” the OUR said yesterday in a release.

“The OUR's decision to undertake a public education campaign to discourage illegal abstraction of electricity reflects its recognition that electricity theft is a systemic problem that requires a coordinated approach by the Government, security forces, Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS), and customers to reduce and eliminate it,” said the utility regulator.

The advertisement stated, in part, that, “JPS has to pass the loss to those who pay”. Comments to the post suggested that the OUR was unfair in allowing the JPS to pass on to its paying customers additional charges related to the loss/theft of electricity.

Said the release: “The role of the OUR as the regulator of electricity is not only to enforce the provisions of the OUR Act and other relevant regulatory instruments, but it also has the responsibility to enhance public awareness of the impact of societal behaviour that adversely impact utility costs.

“The treatment of losses is specifically provided for in the Electricity Licence, 2016, which, among other things states that …'The Office (OUR) shall have the power to set targets for losses, heat rate, and quality of service'. In accordance with the licence, the OUR is mandated to set the target for technical and non-technical losses. Where JPS fails to achieve these targets, the company has no option but to absorb the financial loss in its revenues. Consequently, the OUR, through rigorous analysis in keeping with the provisions of the JPS licence, derives the amount of losses, both technical and non-technical, that is included in the non-fuel rate charged as charged to customers.”

According to the OUR, the losses are crucial components in all of its decisions on JPS's annual tariff adjustments and five-year tariff reviews.

“The OUR appreciates the comments to our post and welcomes the opportunity to have further dialogue that we hope will lead to action, as we all play our part in eliminating electricity theft,” said the regulator.


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