The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) has again found itself on the receiving end of an unfavourable decision by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), after it was yesterday slapped with an order to refund close to $1 billion to customers.
The sum is for charges made to customers’ accounts from March to December 2013 for foreign exchange adjustment on fuel supplied by Petrojam. In a lengthy release, the utility regulator said the light and power company is to refund customers for the charges, which it included on their bills without consultation.
Public education specialist at the OUR, Elizabeth Bennett-Marsh said that the JPS’s justification for the charge was that “it adjusts the fuel cost recovered for any differences between the estimated fuel cost computed at the exchange rate at the end of the month in which it incurs the fuel cost and the exchange rate at which these US$ invoices were actually settled”.
However, the OUR determined that the sum taken from customers, totalling $973,373 million, was in contravention of the Amended and Restated All-Island Electric Licence.
“The OUR, having received JPS’s explanation for making the adjustments, considered the matter and concluded that JPS had no authority under the existing regulatory framework to unilaterally impose the additional costs on customers.
“Customers are to be fully refunded within six months of the effective date of the directive,” the OUR ordered.