So the JPS board has ordered the management of JPS to conduct an audit to review the following:
- The billing system
- The new smart metering program
This has come about as result of the howls of protest from consumers both residential and commercial on the very high bills from the sole utility provider. While many including members of the public and the OUR has welcomed this audit, I think the customers will be in for a rude awakening when the results of the audit are presented in the next 6 weeks.
The findings when they are presented will be along the following lines.
- There is no wholesale inaccurate billing of the customers.
- The new smart meters are in fact recording accurately.
- Many of the customers who saw big increases when the smart meters were introduced had malfunction electro-mechanical analog meters that were under-recording by as much as 20%.
- A few customers (<0.3%) did in fact have smart meters that were malfunctioning
- Some customers did in fact get incorrect bills due to software issues with the data management collection and billing system as well as incorrect readings my the meter reader.
- There are wrong readings being collected from the analog meters by meter readers.
In addition they will find collusion between the contractors who have been given contracts to disconnect and re-connect and persons in the local offices in some parishes. In this case meter readings are deliberately read incorrectly which results in protest from the customer and his refusal to pay. While the dispute is being resolved the persons in the local office adds your name to the list schedule for disconnection resulting in that act being carried out while you are still querying your bill.
The contractor therefore bills JPS, who in turns bills you for the disconnection and reconnection and walks away a happy man, leaving you fuming. All is not lost however as the guaranteed standards does allow for you to be compensated if your service was incorrectly disconnected, but how many of you are even aware of this fact. (Check the OUR website, its their). This act above I must hasten to say is not a wide spread phenomena but does appear to happen in some cases.
The single biggest problem with the JPS billing system is not the cost per kwh but instead its the IPP and fuel charges which ranges between 60% for the rate 10 /residential customer to 75% for the rate 40 customer, that is what needs to be addressed.
There is really no easy way out as with JPS using #2 fuel (automotive diesel) vs #6 fuel (Bunker C) to provide base loading, its very difficult to get prices lower when oil on the international market is rising.
The audit however should be able to determine that JPS having dropped system losses from 23.9% in 2009 to 21% in 2010 should be in a position to drop the energy and fuel charges by a small percentage.
The new smart meters will be vindicated, JPS may offer a small token reduction, but at the end of the day we all will still be left with high bills unless we reduce our consumption.
The reduction in our consumption will allow JPS to less of the generating units that burn the very expensive #2 fuel and instead use the cheaper #6 to meet base loading. This lower fuel use will lower our fuel and IPP charges and will drive the overall cost of bills downwards.
So the best way out for us just like what we did today where we united in wearing black, is that we make a concerted effort to lower our demand and usage which will save us money in the long run.
Filed under: Energy | 1 Comment »