Tue | Aug 4, 2020

Protesters want more transparency from JPS

Published:Monday | July 13, 2020 | 12:26 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter
One of the protesters who on Saturday turned out to voice objection to what they saw as unusually high electricity bills and to speak out against the JPS charging paying customers for losses due to theft.
One of the protesters who on Saturday turned out to voice objection to what they saw as unusually high electricity bills and to speak out against the JPS charging paying customers for losses due to theft.

A shocking electricity bill for more than $10,000 for a month he went without power was enough reason for Brian McPherson to join scores of other customers in protest near the Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS) New Kingston offices on Saturday.

McPherson said he received a bill for over $10,000 in May and made sure to make payment. Heavy winds soon dislocated the wire transmitting current to his house. He tried to make contact with the JPS at least five times to have the matter addressed, but the light was not reconnected until after about a month. As such, he was shocked by his $10,000 June bill.

“Them send back the same bill and say is an estimate, so when I went back down to the office, them a say they don’t know how come they send me a bill without a reading,” he said.

McPherson said that the company sent someone to his house to conduct an assessment and he was subsequently told that the meter was damaged. His wife received a text message the day before the protest, indicating that they now had a $0 balance.

However, McPherson had another issue and still joined the protest. He is against the power company charging its paying customers for losses incurred due to theft.

“The people dem can’t take it no more,” he said. “A lot of us lost our job during COVID. A lot of us not working and we still have bills to pay.”

Dr Marc Ricketts, chief organiser of the protest, said the protesters took their time, energy, and money to participate because they wanted to make a statement.

“The statement, ultimately, is we feel we are being disadvantaged by the present arrangements that obtain in the sector. Arrangements – not just from JPS – arrangements, including Petrojam and the way our gas bills are arrived at. The seemingly random charges that are added to our gas price that we know nothing about and are now being told that these are ultimately to make sure they guarantee a profit share for Petrojam,” he said.

He said that there has been a lack of transparency in how the JPS charges customers and blasted the Office of Utilities Regulation for not doing enough to protect consumers.

“If things don’t change, there is always the possibility we will be back out again,” he said.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com