PUC hearing on GWI tariffs for Friday

Members of the public are invited to attend the hearing and will be al1owed to ask questions and seek explanations from the GWI.

The GWI is seeking consolidation of the multiple tariff bands for the Guyana Water Authority and the Georgetown Sewerage and Water Commissioners. Request is being made to the PUC to:

1. Approve the introduction of “Security Deposit” for subscribers to the service.

2. Approve the introduction of “Fixed Charge” component of the tariff.

3. Approve the method of categorization for the various tariff bands

a. Residential
b. Commercial
c. Industrial; Institutional
d. Special Category
e. Government

4. Approve the rates for the various tariff bands for the supply of water.

5. Approve the rates for the various tariff bands for sewerage services.

It is the desire of Guyana Water Inc to commence billing unmetered customers on a quarterly basis from March 2009 with a view to consolidate all billings (metered or unmetered) to quarterly. This is in keeping with the drive to meter all customers (metered customers are currently billed quarterly).

Security deposit
Guyana Water Inc is seeking the approval of the Public Utilities Commission to introduce a security deposit for customers. The company has been plagued with a high level of delinquency when it comes to customers servicing their indebtedness; current debt stands in excess of $7B. The request is for the deposit to be set at the amount equal to the minimum billing (in this case equal to one semi-annual bill) for customers.

GWI is requesting approval for the following customers to lodge a security deposit:

1. All new applicants for the service.

2. All customers whose delinquency has led to the disconnection of the service; these will be   required to lodge the security deposit prior to the reconnection of their service.

3. Deposits will be held and only used:
a. if an account is terminated (voluntary or involuntary), used to clear an outstanding balance that is on account 90 days after termination; if any remains after settling debts it will be paid to the customer via cheque 30 days after the account is closed.

b. If the account is downgraded

(1) The difference between deposit levels can be applied to a customer account as payment or a customer can choose to keep the deposit level.

4. Customers will not be allowed to withdraw deposits once their account remains active.

All security deposits will be kept in a separate interest bearing account − the interest not to exceed the minimum interest payable on savings accounts as determined by the Bank of Guyana Annual Report for the said year.

Fixed charges
It has become a staple on most tariffs for utilities around the world to have a fixed charge built in. Given the dramatic fluctuations in the price of fuel which accounts for over 60% of GWI operating costs such a charge is necessary.

Tariff Band – Residential
The proposal is to have this category no longer referred to “Domestic” since there is some degree of ambiguity with this definition, hereinafter this category will be referred as “Residential.”

The Guyana’s Consumers Association has pointed out to the PUC that 13.30hrs is not a suitable time for consumers to attend hearings. A hearing which was held in the late afternoon at Hotel Tower was well attended. Maybe the PUC does not wish consumers to participate in this hearing.

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