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Abu Dhabi unveils new utility bill

Separate water and electricity bills provide more information to help change consumer behaviour

| | Mar 12, 2012 | 10:16 am
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Separate water and electricity bills provide more information to help change consumer behaviour

The Regulation & Supervision Bureau (RSB) has announced that, starting this month, a new utility bill for water and electricity will be rolled out across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi that will provide customers with more information, which will help them manage their utility 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.

According to the RSB, the consumption bands give residential customers an average range to benchmark their water and electricity use, essentially as a tool to manage consumption, depending on whether they live in an apartment or villa. The green “tick” symbol will show the ideal-average and the red “exclamation” symbol will indicate the above ideal-average. Thus, the customers can adjust their electricity and water use to keep within the ideal range for their type of property.

While nationals will 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 about consumption.

The announcement explained that to ensure customers were not taken by surprise by the new billing system, an information campaign was introduced before the March ‘go-live’ date, which highlighted the key changes and addressed concerns and questions that many customers may have had. Based on an energy consumption theme, the campaign introduced 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?

The RSB pointed out that the Government subsidy represented a large part of the actual cost of producing and delivering water and electricity to the customers, for which they do not pay. It is hoped that by seeing the actual cost of the utility, customers will realise the Government’s contribution to the sector. This, in turn, is expected to increase awareness among them.

The RSB revealed that the new bill would be rolled out in phases during March and April, starting with residential and business customers. However, as bills are mailed throughout a month’s cycle, not all customers will see the new bill immediately. Also, 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 announcement explained.

The new billing system reportedly uses a personalised customer communications platform, which will enable an entire range of billing solutions to be introduced.

Speaking on behalf of the sector, Nicholas Carter, Director General of the Regulation and Supervision Bureau, 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.”

Mohammed Bin Jarsh, Deputy Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Distribution Company, added: “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. 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.”

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