Sat | Aug 24, 2019

J$15 billion investment to reduce power outages

Published:Friday | July 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Emanuel DaRosa (left), CEO of JPS, and Blaine Jarrett, senior vice-president at a press briefing hosted by the utility company at its New Kingston head office yesterday.

Underscoring that its customers are now far less tolerant of power outages due to their heavy reliance on electrical devices, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) will this year invest US$116m (J$15b) to improve the reliability of its electricity service by 30 per cent over the next three to five years.

Yesterday, the JPS launched its Reliability 3.0 Programme which, among other improvements, is expected to decrease the average duration of outages experienced by customers in a one-year period from 29 hours to 20 hours.

In her opening remarks to the media briefing at JPS' New Kingston head office, Director of Corporate Communications and Customer Services Winsome Callum explained that the company's customer satisfaction survey, which was carried out in December, confirmed that reliability was at the top of customers' priority list.

She said that while customers admitted to seeing improvements in reliability, the findings suggested that much more should be done to improve this aspect of the utility company's service.

"Forty-seven per cent of our customers did say that they were not happy with the frequency of outages and the duration of outages," Callum revealed.

JPS President and CEO Emanuel DaRosa said that customers could expect to experience fewer outages, shortened duration of outages in those areas where the new technologies were being rolled out, and improved communication with customers on outages.

"Outside of the urban areas is where some of the highest outage rates are being experienced, so we have to do some work in those specific areas to improve the country's overall reliability. The intent is going to be across the board but with some specific focus on areas where the reliability numbers aren't where they ought to be or even higher than the average," said DaRosa.

He further explained that the new 190 megawatt power plant in Old Harbour Bay was central to JPS' plan to provide a reliable power supply to customers. Incorporating more renewables, completing a 24.5 megawatt storage facility, full grid automation, and installing 100,000 smart meters islandwide were the other key areas of the plan outlined by DaRosa.

"There is a small impact to rates (light bill), but we're recognising that there's also improvement in efficiency ... that is lowering some operating costs. There are some offsetting costs, so it's not a strain on the back of our customers," he reasoned.