KINGSTON — Interventions by the Office of the Utilities Regulation (OUR) has resulted in over $6 million being secured for utility users for 2010, the agency’s Director of Consumer and Public Affairs, Michael Bryce, said Wednesday August 31.
Speaking at a press briefing at the OUR in New Kingston, Mr. Bryce said the $6.3 million was secured primarily through debit adjustments applied to customers’ accounts, where the accounts were back billed. He also stated that between January and May this year, the agency secured compensation of just over $800,000 from 10 cases.
"We have also managed to close 35 of the 164 appeals being handled, up to June of this year, and several other cases are very near to resolution," he stated. Of the outstanding appeals, 94 relate to the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) and 35 to the National Water Commission (NWC), he added.
He said that for 2010, the agency accepted 139 new appeals for investigation, in addition to 122 appeals which remained unresolved from 2009, bringing the total to 261. Of the 139, 89 were related to services provided by the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS), while 50 were related to the National Water Commission (NWC). There were no appeals relating to services provided by the telecommunications companies.
Of the 261 appeals investigated in 2010, 184 were resolved or closed as at December 31. Of those resolved, 44 were in favour of the customer and 144 were in the utilities' favour. The remaining six included matters mutually resolved between the customers and the utilities, as well as those that the OUR closed as a result of the customers’ failure to provide information required for an investigation.
Mr. Bryce pointed out that the OUR, as a quasi-judicial body, must conduct a full and proper investigation before it can hand down a ruling. He also said that the ruling must be able to withstand review in any jurisdiction, therefore the regulator cannot engage in delivering justice overnight.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter