OfReg seeks public input on consumer protection

The Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg) has launched a public consultation on the long-awaited Consumer Protection Regulations for the energy and water utilities sector.

In a press release, OfReg said consumer protection is not only one of the regulator’s principal functions but it also believes that it is in the public interest to regulate the terms and conditions under which energy and utilities services are provided.

The utility regulator on Wednesday published a consultation paper which seeks the views of the general public, operators, and other interested parties about the draft Consumer Protection Regulations for the electricity, water and wastewater sectors.

The proposed regulations aim to establish the protocols and rules which providers should adhere to. They cover the provision of information, how to address complaints, contract terms, billing, service provision and fault repair.

A performance audit of OfReg’s first three years of operation, released in June by the auditor general, found that the majority of the regulator’s decisions so far had little impact on consumer protection. And consumer-protection regulations, which were supposed to be completed last year, had not been implemented.

Consumer protection has been a thorny issue in Cayman. Proposed consumer-protection legislation for the retail sector has been circulated for the past five years and undergone public consultation. The proposed legislation was met with criticism by the business community, and it has not been implemented.

However, under the Electricity Sector Regulation Law, OfReg is responsible for reviewing and approving rules governing the provision, refusal, disconnection and interruption of service by licensees.

The Water Sector Regulation Law, in turn, gives the regulator the authority to prescribe performance standards in connection with water supply and wastewater services, after a public consultation.

Corresponding consumer-protection regulations for the Information and Communications Technology sector have not been released. Alee Fa’amoe, executive director ICT at OfReg, told the Public Accounts Committee in July that ICT consumer-protection regulations would be submitted to Cabinet “very shortly”.

The entire consultation document is available on the regulator’s website at www.ofreg.ky. The consultation ends on 5 Sept.

Views can be submitted to OfReg by emailing [email protected].

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