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Private sector welcomes lower light bills - JPS announces seven per cent dip in electricity charges

Published:Tuesday | August 18, 2015 | 8:00 AMDaraine Luton

With electricity rates set to decline by 7.1 per cent this month, the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) says it hopes that this will be part of an ongoing movement to lower light bills.

JMA President Metry Seaga said yesterday that the reduction is "a welcome one".

"It is not enough, but it is a good start. It makes a difference to many companies that are barely holding on. Some of us when we get our light bill, we hold our hearts for three days trying to figure out how we are going to pay it. Any reduction in those bills keeps us afloat longer," the JMA boss said.

The Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd (JPS) said yesterday that the reduction in bills was attributed to reduced fuel prices.

"The fuel & IPP charge on bills for August is $14.47 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), compared to the charge of $16.76 per kWh applied to July bills. This means that the total cost per kWh of electricity has fallen from 27 US cents to 24 US cents, or J$28.18," the JPS said.

The fuel charge on electricity bills changes each month, depending on the cost of the oil that JPS and other power generating companies buy to produce electricity.

Ja very fortunate

Seaga said Jamaica has been very fortunate that oil prices have fallen globally.

The Electricity Sector Enterprise Team (ESET) has signed off on the establishment of 330 megawatts of new generating capacity for Jamaica as part of the Government's push to lower electricity rates on the island.

ESET has laid out a number of energy projects proposed by different companies that will develop new and convert existing capacity to cheaper fuel sources by 2018.

"I am confident that we are on the right road," Seaga said of the work being done by the Vin Lawrence-chaired ESET team to secure lower energy prices.

"Are we moving fast enough? Not as fast as I would like, but I am not sure that we can move any faster at the moment. I am happy that we are on the right track," Seaga added.

Donovan Wignal, president of the Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Alliance, said the reduction was a fillip for growth within the businesses.

"Every single reduction in the cost of any input that we utilise for business, whether in manufacturing or in service providing, it is absolutely a welcome event in the sense that it will free us up from expenses, allowing us to put additional resources into growing our business," Wignal said.

"When you look at the manufacturing sector, the people who do broilers, the people who do ornamental fishing, the hairdressers, even the man that runs the shop on the corner, the people who do services that have to use preconditioning units for days upon days and hours upon hours will absolutely welcome the news and even look further down the road for it going down a bit more," he added.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com