Neika Lewis reports

The embattled light and power company, Jamaica Public Service, JPS, is admitting that a 12-per cent increase in estimated bills has resulted in higher bills for its customers.

JPS is being blasted by many of its customers who’re lamenting that the increases in their bills aren’t justified.

JPS made the admission in a letter to its regulator, the Office of Utilities Regulation, OUR.

The letter is dated May 20, 2020.

Nationwide News has obtained a copy of the letter, which was written in response to a request from the OUR in April.

The regulator had asked JPS how many complaints about high light bills they received between March and April, what areas were affected, and what their investigations found.

They also asked whether there’s been an increase in the number of estimated bills between March and April. 

The four-page letter is signed by JPS’ Director of Government and Regulatory Relations, Samuel Davis.

In it, Mr. Davis acknowledges that the power company has noticed an increase in complaints about high light bills.

However, he describes the increase of 134 complaints as “statistically insignificant” relative to their customer base.

But that’s only the increase for March.

In April, complaints ballooned by 72-per cent, jumping from 942 to more than 16-hundred.

Meanwhile, the OUR says it also received a large increase in complaints.

According to a statement from the OUR, total complaints about JPS more than tripled.

In the letter from Mr. Davis, JPS indicates that it has investigated the reasons for the high light bills.

They continue to attribute the bulk of it to higher consumption by customers, because more people were working from home and schools were closed.

According to the letter, residential customers used 11-per cent more electricity in April than they did in March.

However, JPS’s other categories of customers used significantly less.

The largest reduction was their industrial customers, classified as Rate 50.

Their consumption fell 25-per cent in April.

Usage by both small and large commercial customers was down about 12-per cent on average.

But, JPS also noted longer billing periods as a reason for higher bills, with some customers billed for up to 33 days.

Additionally, there was a 12-per cent increase in estimated bills, which JPS acknowledges resulted in higher bills.

The power company says they were forced to send estimated bills in St. Catherine and part of Clarendon during the coronavirus lock down.

JPS says they haven’t manually read meters or disconnected customers in quarantined communities. 

Additionally, JPS says 72-thousand customers were affected by a revision to the fuel rate.

Rates were adjusted down by about 9-per cent, but the company says this may have caused some confusion because their original bills were canceled and new bills sent out with the lower rate.