Photo from (10th OEK Senate Facebook Page)

Customer complaints against the Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) prompted the senate to create a bill that proposes to uphold fair and equal opportunity in hearing out the customers’ complaints.

Senator Kerai Mariur narrated the experience of a person whom he said was not given an opportunity to explain the reasons for high debts with PPUC.

Senator Camsek Chin meanwhile, mentioned a person who saw a leaking pipe and dealt with it while reporting it to the PPUC who allegedly did not heed the report. The man was instead allegedly penalized for tampering with the water meter and was imposed a high fine, according to the senator.

Many more issues were brought up by the other senators and these were just the two of the several of them.

Standing Committee Report No. 10-214 asks PPUC to have a mandatory Due Process while the Senate also proposed a legislation that will ensure people will be given a chance to explain their concerns or issues.

The Senate Bill No. 10-51 passed first reading in March of 2019 and was added a new provision that will allow for an opportunity to hear the customer’s complaints. This proposed law is placed under the “Net Metering Act.”

Any tampering with the meter by a customer will be fine a $1,000. They will allegedly fine the owner for the problem and not investigate other causes when the owner denies any knowledge of it.  A customer who believes they have been billed incorrectly may submit a complaint within 30 days. The agency being PPUC may not take any adverse action whether it be disconnection or termination and the submitted customer complaint shall act as a stay on the enforcement disputed bill.

The same may go for if the customer believes they have been harmed by any action from the agency, they may send in a customer complaint and the proper deposit, the agency shall send a notice stating the complaint is under consideration and the agency Statement shall be forthcoming.

There will also be an expedited decision made about a result of a complaint so that there will be no prolonged conflict between PPUC and customers.

The committee proposed to amend Senate Bill No. 10-51 so it becomes the “Public Utilities Fair Practice Act”. This way complaints are addressed fairly and equally.

The “Public Utilities Fair Practice Act” will have the customer pay a deposit to PPUC and have PPUC investigate the customer’s complaint. PPUC will write a letter to the customer whether they accept the complaint or not. If they agree and the customer was right, they give back the deposit and 9% per year/annum. If they are found wrong, PPUC will write a letter to PEA, have them research the customers’ complaints and have them make a decision within 30 days.

Before going to PEA, a customer may bring a lawyer to represent him or her if they do not agree, but both PPUC and the customer must still follow PEA’s way of solving the problem.

The proposed bill will clarify that PPUC cannot charge a customer a fine in their tariff schedule. PEA will follow the tariff schedule which means PEA will be responsible for adjudicating.  They will listen and research from any complaint with a Palauan at PPUC and this responsibility will be amended to PEA under section 704(B). It will be their responsibility to listen to the complaints of the customer and PPUC.