The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) on June 10, 2023, organized a workshop on the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (Consumer Service) Regulation, 2020, L.I. 2413 for Utility Service Providers (Electricity Company of Ghana and the Ghana Water Company Limited) in the Ashanti Regional Capital Kumasi.
Dr. Ishmael Ackah, Executive Secretary of the PURC in his opening remarks was grateful to the Utility Service Providers for honoring the invitation. He indicated that, customers and service providers were becoming sophisticated, in their operations as a result, disputes are bound to arise. Thus, when disputes arise, the PURC Legislative Instrument (L.I. 2413) sets the tone to resolve the issues or concerns. “As an Independent Regulator, there is the need to engage the Utility Service Providers and Customers on the L.I. 2413, which spells out the rights and responsibilities of both stakeholders”.
Dr. Ackah expressed the hope that the engagement would further strengthen the already existing cordial relation between the PURC and Utility Service Providers, and further help in guiding the Service providers in handling issues and concerns on quality-of-service delivery.
Dr. Ackah urged Stakeholders present to make the workshop an interactive discussion, make suggestions, and ask questions so that together, the electricity and water sectors can be placed on a sound footing.
The Director, Legal, of PURC, Mrs. Nancy Atiemo, explained that the Purpose of the Regulations (L.I. 2413), was to provide for: A transparent regulatory framework to ensure safe, adequate, efficient, reasonable, and non-discriminatory service. It is also to serve as an enforcement framework for quality-of-service delivery to consumers.
According to Mrs. Atiemo, the legal framework of PURC recognizes that “the law is not static: it is dynamic, ever responding to changes and needs, hence, there is the need to find a regulatory solution to improve regulation of water utilities and harmonize all non-technical consumer related utility issues, address utility complaints – disconnection period, complaints, and to prescribe more extensive provisions on prepayment metering”.
The Senior Manager for Legal Services, Ms. Barbara Holm-Fleischer, explained that the L.I. 2413 was enacted to harmonize all consumer-related issues. She noted that, the Energy Commission was reviewing some of its Legislative Instruments to focus on technical issues to avoid overlaps with the PURC L.I. 2413. According to Ms. Holm-Fleischer, the workshop was aimed at listening to concerns of the Utility Service Providers and to help in the effective implementation of the L.I. “The key regulatory issues in the L.I. are; rights/obligations of the consumer & utility service provider, complaints management, billing and metering, disconnection, reporting, compliance & enforcement”.
Ms. Holm-Fleischer highlighted observations from complaints settlement; increasing direct reports to Commission, non-compliance with ‘response’ in L.I. 2413, inadequate preparation by some representatives of utility service providers, bulk billing for Self Help Electricity Program (SHEP)/ delays in capturing these meters in ECG books, antagonistic attitude of utility staff, poor customer service, non-delivery of bills, delays in new service connection, delays in pole replacement, and long periods of estimated bills contrary to the 6months period noted in the L.I.
Present at the program were the Director, Energy Services and Performance Monitoring, Ing. Fred Oblitey; Director, Research and Corporate Affairs, Dr. Eric Kofi Obutey; Senior Managers, Regional Operations and Consumer Services, Mr. Edmund Kwaku Tuffour and Mr. Leon Acquaye; Head of Corporate Affairs, Mr. Robert Aziz; Ashanti Regional Manager, and staff of the Region.