Customer Service  

Claims for Damage

The Procedure For Handling Claims For Damage To Customers’ Electrical Equipment

The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited will offer settlement for damage to a customer’s electrical equipment due to failure, negligence or omission on the secondary distribution circuit up to the Company’s service point, which would result in a voltage outside of the acceptable limits. The voltages outside of the acceptable limits are those within the prohibited region shown on the CBEMA/ITIC graph.

Evidence of failure in the equipment’s main incoming power supply is also required in the case of electronic equipment.

The utility’s service point is defined as “the point of connection between the facilities of the serving utility and the customer premises’ wiring” (Ref. National Electrical Code Article 100.1). The point of connection is the weatherhead for socket type meters, the meter terminals for bottom connected meters, low tension (LT) stirrups for underground LT services fed from the overhead network and the secondary terminals of the transformer where the customer’s cable is connected directly to the transformer. For Large Power customers the point of connection is the primary side of the customer’s transformer - the secondary distribution within the customer’s facility and maintenance therein is the customer’s responsibility.

Settlement is offered in the following situations:

1. Errors made by Company employees.

2. Failure of the neutral connection either through loose connections, corroded connections, or breakage due to wear and tear on the LT feeder lines up to the Company’s service point. Exceptions to this are breakage of the neutral due to third parties, kites, animals, vehicular accidents, etc.

3. High voltage at the transformer terminals (CBEMA/ITIC prohibited region).

4. High Tension (HT) lines making contact with LT lines resulting in high voltage at the customer’s electrical installation.

5. An LT line making contact with the neutral on a 3-wire system.

6. A faulty transformer giving rise to high voltage (CBEMA/ITIC prohibited region)

7. Short circuits on the secondary distribution up to the utility’s service point.

8. Improper line clearances resulting in short circuits, broken LT and service neutrals.

9. Tree limbs breaking the neutral of LT lines, except when the tree is on customer’s property breaking his/her service wire.

10. Short circuit on service wire damaging premises.

11. Fires caused by fallen HT line or burning fuse or disconnect.

No settlement is offered in the following situations:

1. Outages or other events arising from lightning strikes, wind or rainstorms and other Acts of God.

2. Inadequacies or faults on the customer’s side of the electrical installation.

3. Loose connections on phase conductors which could result in undervoltage conditions.

4. Interruption of service due to breaker or recloser operations on the main transmission and distribution system.

5. Damage resulting from the actions of third parties.

6. Loose, broken or corroded neutral connections in the meter socket base as the meter socket base is part of the customer’s installation.

7. Fallen trees on the company’s lines.

In these cases, the Company may consider settlement where unusual conditions or circumstances exist which merit special consideration, even though a settlement would not normally be offered. An example of this would be where the damage resulted from a problem that had previously been reported but misdiagnosed by the crew and required a return visit to correct the fault. Settlement amounts are assessed as follows on the cost to repair the equipment to good working order.

Transportation costs or special costs incurred in having the equipment repaired or checked shall be considered for reimbursement.

If the equipment cannot be repaired, the Company requests that the equipment be brought in for assessment and the pre-incident market value of the equipment is offered. This is calculated based on the replacement value of an equivalent item less depreciation of an average of 10% per year. In some cases, e.g. if faults on both the utility service and the customer installation can result in a power event in the prohibited region of the CBEMA /ITIC curve, then a partial settlement is offered based on 50% of the repair or assessed value of the equipment. Assistance is often sought from the Company’s Insurance Company in determining settlement amounts.

The Company may also contract the services of technicians to carry out repairs if the customer is unable or unwilling to undertake the repairs himself/herself Some common household appliances e.g. TV, VCR, radio may be made available to customers on loan while equipment is under repair. Rental costs for temporary replacement of equipment may also be taken into account for repairs taking longer than 3 weeks.

Compensation for loss of use is not offered except in special circumstances and where it is clearly quantifiable. Compensation for spoilage is not offered except in special circumstances and where it is clearly quantifiable.

Damage Claim Procedure

1. Customers may make claims in writing or by reporting it to our Customer Services Department, on the telephone or in the offices, stating the item(s) damaged, date and time of damage if available, and any circumstances surrounding event that caused the damage, e.g. power outage, line crews in the area, truck visited to correct a problem at the service, etc.

a) When the report is received, a service order is entered by the Customer Service Representative in the Customer Information System (CIS) database. Outside of business hours, claims may be made via the Emergency/Trouble Calls Section of our Distribution Department and the information is forwarded to the Power Quality Section for entry into the CIS database where its status can be tracked and cost information accumulated for claims statistics.

b) The Service orders are transferred into the Company’s Maximo Work Order database and a Work Order is generated. The Work Order is used to issue directions to Operation crews, create follow-up orders for further work that may be required and collect information for Service and Performance Standards.

2. The information on the claim is forwarded to the Power Quality Section the next working day for investigation. The Power Quality Section investigates the circumstances surrounding the damage, the cause of outage, reports of service visits, operation logs and any other relevant source of information about the claim.

3. If no service visit has been made (e.g. by Trouble Calls) to correct a problem the Work Order is passed to field personnel to carry out voltage checks and inspect and/or test the secondary service equipment between the transformer, bow pole, service pole and weatherhead. The meter socket base at the customer’s installation is also inspected and a measurement of the ground resistance is made, where possible. This seeks to identify possible sources of disturbances that can impact on the electrical environment seen by equipment which, if corrected, would minimise damage from similar events in the future.

4. On receipt of all relevant information collected during the investigation, a recommendation is made to the Customer Services Manager/Power Quality Engineer.

5. A letter is issued to the customer advising him/her of the claims decision. Responses to letters from lawyers on behalf of customers are copied to the Manager Corporate Services.

6. In cases of large numbers of claims (in the region of 20 or over) to be settled based on a single event, the claims may be forwarded to the Company’s Insurance Broker and a Loss Adjuster is contracted to negotiate a settlement on the Company’s behalf.