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JPS launches smart meter roll-out

Published:Monday | July 11, 2016 | 7:00 AMMikhail Williams
A smart meter is seen on display at the launch.

The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) launched their nationwide smart meter roll-out at the JPS headquarters on July 7.

According to President and CEO of JPS Kelly Tomblin, "the future of energy is bright... Jamaica and JPS are embedded in a phase of unprecedented progress". Gary Barrow, chief technology officer at JPS, underscored the importance of smart meters and the benefits to the current national grid.

"We're actually putting more intelligence in the grid to provide the stability and reliability that is going to be necessary when we start to integrate mass amounts of these renewables and that is really the start of our smart grid, the primary driver," he said. "This year, we're going to be launching three applications ... those are going to be smart-phone applications." On these applications, customers will be able to get outage notifications, restoration times, and real-time consumption and see their bill online and pay it.

"All of our appliances in a short while will become Wi-Fi-enabled and it will mean that you will be able to use your smartphone wherever you are, whatever time, to actually look at your devices, to get access to your devices and turn them on and off," he said. The company is also investing in other smart grid technologies and services, including smart LED street lighting, smart parking and smart vehicle-charging stations for electric vehicles. This is all part of building a smart energy economy.

A pilot programme was launched three years ago in sections of the Jacks Hill and Barbican communities and Barrow said the company learned much from both customers and on the technical side.

"Already, we have over 50,000 smart meters in the field right now that we're able to control remotely and we're able to get usage patterns, but we don't have the software that actually allows our customers to dial in."

This year, the company is targeting to roll out over 20,000 smart meters on that network at a cost of approximately US$5 million. Seven parishes will be covered: Kingston, St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann, St Mary, St James and Westmoreland. JPS technicians will visit customers over the next four to five months and will change the current meters free of cost.