OUR won’t allow Bogue delay to lead to higher light bills
The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) says it will ensure that power utility Jamaica Public Service Company does not increase bills to consumers based on the delay in the delivery of cheaper gas fuel.
The first delivery of liquefied natural gas - LNG - by JPS' supplier was expected in April, but has been pushed back to August.
New Fortress Energy has developed a terminal in Montego Bay to feed gas to JPS' Bogue plant, which has been converted to burn either LNG or automotive diesel oil.
"The OUR has moved to assure consumers that it will be vigilant in ensuring that the delay in the delivery of liquefied natural gas to the Bogue power plant will not result in an increase in the price of electricity," said the regulator in a statement.
While welcoming the completion of the conversion of the 120-megawatt combined cycle plant, the OUR signalled disappointment with the "four-month delay" in the delivery of the overall project.
The gas supply agreement signed by JPS and New Fortress Energy on August 5, 2015, stipulated that gas delivery would commence April 2016, the OUR stated.
"Safeguards for customers were included in the agreement with New Fortress to ensure that any delay on its part would not result in negative cost implications for customers," noted OUR Director General Albert Gordon. "The OUR has been monitoring the project closely and will continue to keep the public abreast of its progress."
The Bogue project's goals, which are aligned to those in the National Energy Policy, were to reduce fuel cost, and lower the operations and maintenance expenditure of electricity generation. Gordon noted that the OUR's involvement in the project began in 2008 and that the agency mandated that the plant be upgraded to burn gas in the 2014-2019 JPS tariff determination.
"To ensure this, the OUR also made provisions for the setting up of the Bogue Plant Reconfiguration Fund (BPRF), financed through the tariff, to facilitate the conversion cost," the agency said.
The revenues for the BPRF - which totalled $15 million - were collected by the JPS through a line item in the monthly fuel rate calculation on customers' bills, over a twelve-month period, between February 2015 and January 2016, the OUR said.
Requests to JPS for comment were unanswered up to press time.