ABU DHABI UNVEILS NEW UTILITY BILL FOR WATER AND ELECTRICITY
Bin Jarsh: We seek to change the consumers' behaviour to be more rational
Saeed Al Suwaidi: New billing systems doesn't mean introducing new tariffs
Separate water and electricity bills provide more information to empower customers
Abu Dhabi, February 8, 2012 – From March a new utility bill for water and electricity is to be rolled out across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi that will provide customers with more information, key to managing their consumption. All water and electricity customers will receive separate utility bills showing the Government subsidy. In addition residential customers will have two consumption bands indicating an “ideal-average” and above “ideal-average” range of consumption.
Speaking on behalf of the sector, Nicholas Carter, Director General of the Regulation and Supervision Bureau (RSB) said “With an upward trend in population and economic growth the Government of Abu Dhabi is aware of the pressure this puts on the country’s resources. Steps taken now will help ensure the continuous and secure supply of water and electricity into the future. As the tariff stays the same, the new bill is one way to address consumption and influence long-term behavioural change.”
The consumption bands give residential customers an average range to benchmark their water and electricity use, essentially a tool to manage consumption, depending on whether they live in an apartment or villa (all other premises). The green “tick” symbol shows the ideal-average and the red “exclamation” symbol indicates the above ideal-average. Whether they are in the “green” or in the “red”, customers can adjust their electricity and water use to keep within the ideal range for their type of property.
The consumption bands are based on annual averages for each property type and are as follows:
Ideal Average Above Ideal Average
Property type Flat All other premises Flat All other premises
Electricity (units per day) 0-20 0-200 21+ 201+
Water (litres per day) 0-700 0-5000 701+ 5001+
While Nationals continue to receive free water and electricity for nominal prices, the new bill will be sent to them as an information tool to help build awareness around consumption.
“Peak summer demand drives a core part of the sector’s costs and it is consumer behaviour at this time of year that we need to influence,” said Mohammed Bin Jarsh, Deputy Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Distribution Company. “Based on current use, we know that most of our customers will be ‘in the red’ for the summer months. By encouraging customers to use efficient appliances and adjust their air conditioning, we can reduce our electricity use significantly.”
Saeed Al Suwaidi, Director of CSD, said; "Introducing the new bills doesn't mean that we are going to increase the water and electricity prices, which is a government controlled issue and not the utility companies".
To ensure customers are not taken by surprise an information campaign will introduce the new bill before the March ‘go-live’ date which highlights the key changes and addresses concerns and questions that many customers may wish to ask. Based on an energy consumption theme, the campaign introduces two ‘consumption’ symbols as tools for behaviour change. Over the past week Abu Dhabi residents have been exposed to the start of an advertising campaign (are you in the green or in the red) that forms part of this information programme. Various campaign information themes will be rolled out for the next two months to help customers understand their new bills.
The Government subsidy represents a large part of the actual cost of producing and delivering water and electricity to the customer, for which they do not pay. “By showing the actual cost of the utility, customers will realise the Government’s contribution to the sector",” says Mr Carter. "This will increase awareness amongst the consumers in relation to their consumption of water and electricity".
The new bill will be rolled out in phases during March and April starting with residential and business customers although as bills are mailed throughout a month’s cycle not all customers will see the new bill immediately. Additional services such as online viewing of the new bill, bill reprints and online statements for corporate accounts will be introduced in April. To address the issue of ‘more paper’, an email option will supplement the existing SMS “total to pay” alert.
The new billing system uses what is known as a personalised customer communications platform and will enable a whole range of billing solutions to be introduced to customers. Both distribution companies have spent many months upgrading their existing systems to introduce this new service.