Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the role of the OUR?
The role of the OUR includes developing the framework within which the regulated utilities operate; setting the rates and service standards for some of the regulated sectors and to  operate in a fair, independent and transparent manner in fulfilling our obligations to all stakeholders.

What does the OUR regulate?
The OUR was established to regulate the provision of prescribed utility services as defined in the Office of Utilities Regulation Act. These services include:

• The provision of telecommunications services
• The provision of public passenger transportation by road, rail or ferry
• The supply or distribution of water
• The provision of sewerage services
• The generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity

As such, the OUR exercises regulatory oversight of persons authorised to provide these prescribed utility services. Some of the persons regulated by the OUR includes but are not limited to the Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd. (JPS) and other independent power producers, the National Water Commission (NWC) and other small water and sewerage providers, Cable and Wireless Jamaica Limited (LIME), Digicel (Jamaica) Limited (Digicel), Columbus Communications Jamaica Limited (Flow) and other telecommunications licensees. The OUR is also authorised to determine the fares charged by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited (JUTC) and operators of public passenger vehicles (taxis).

How can the OUR assist utility consumers?
The OUR assists utility consumers through various means which include:

ensuring that the environment is created for the efficient, safe and reliable delivery of service to utility customers at a reasonable cost;
providing an avenue of appeal to utility customers ; and,
establishing the agreed service standards (Guaranteed Standards) which attract a compensatory payment to the customer when the companies are in breach.

What are Guaranteed Standards?
The Guaranteed Standards are agreed service levels by which the JPS and NWC should comply.

If either company fails to comply with the standards, the affected customer is entitled to compensation and should submit a claim – where compensation is not automatic.

For example: Neither JPS or NWC should send the customer more than two (2) consecutive estimates (where the meter is accessible).

Are Guaranteed Standards being developed for other utility providers?
Yes. The OUR is currently in the process of developing guaranteed standards for the telecommunications providers.

If I have a problem with a utility company, how can I get in touch with the OUR?
The OUR can be contacted by using any of the following means:
Telephone: 1 876.968.6053
Fax: 1.876.929.3635
In person and regular mail at:
36 Trafalgar Road
Kingston 10
However, the Consumer Affairs Department is open to the public between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.

It is important to note that the OUR provides an avenue of appeal for utility customers. Therefore, customers need to first exhaust the complaints procedure at the service provider so that they will be in a position to appeal the company’s decision to the OUR.

How is the OUR funded?
The OUR is funded through regulatory fees which the regulated entities are mandated to pay. The amount paid is determined by the OUR’s projection of the share of work to be done in each of the regulated sectors Regulatory Fees are ultimately recovered from utility consumers through their respective tariffs.

What are the powers of the OUR?
The powers of the OUR are defined by our functions. As such, the powers of the OUR are outlined in our roles which are to: regulate the provision of utility services; setting the rates and service standards for the regulated entities; and, protecting the rights of utility consumers.

To whom does the OUR report?
The OUR reports to Cabinet Office.

What is P.A.M.?
The Price Adjustment Mechanism (P.A.M.) allows the National Water Commission (NWC) to adjust its rates automatically on a monthly basis for movements in the exchange rate, inflation and electricity charges.

What is K-Factor?
The K-Factor was established in the NWC’s 2008 tariff determination to provide the entity with funds to carry out capital projects intended to reduce non-revenue water, extend sewerage services, as well as to improve its existing sewerage treatment plants.  Efforts to reduce non-revenue water include: repairing and/orreplacing its current ageing and decaying infrastructure with a view to significantly reduce and overtime (possibly) eliminate leaks on its network.

What is X-Factor?
The X-Factor represents the efficiency gains made by the NWC that are passed on to its customers by way of a rate reduction.