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Consumer advocate worried about JPS rate cut

Published:Friday | January 9, 2015 | 1:23 AM

A member of a utilities-advocacy group is calling for the Office of Utilities Regulation’s (OUR) to satisfy the country that its decision to cut non-fuel rates charged by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) will not jeopardise the viability of the entity.



Yasmin Chong of the Consumer Advisory Committee on Utilities says while any reduction is always welcomed by consumers, they also want a quality grid and a viable utility.



The JPS is to construct a new 190 megawatt gas-turbine plant to replace aging power plants at Old Harbour in St Catherine and Hunts Bay in St Andrew.



Construction of the new power plant, which should be completed by 2017, is essential to reducing the country’s high energy cost.



Chong is questioning whether the rate determination by the OUR would enable the utility company to discharge its responsibility to undertake that project.



Meanwhile, JPS customers will be required to contribute to a dedicated fund, through their light bills, to enable the light and power company to convert its Bogue plant from diesel to gas-based fuel.



The fund approved by the OUR will see consumers contributing US$15 million over a 12-month period.



However, even with this new charge, consumers are expected to pay lower light bills.



Residential customers will see their bills reduced by on average 1.9 per cent following the OUR’s decision that there should be a 0.96 per cent reduction in the non-fuel rates.



The JPS had proposed to increase the residential tariff, on average, by 21 per cent.



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