Tue | Apr 7, 2020

We must address unpaid-for electricity use – energy minister

Published:Saturday | February 29, 2020 | 12:05 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Science, Energy and Technology Minister Fayval Williams believes that, in creating policies to promote greater energy efficiency in Jamaica, the phenomenon of persons using electricity that they do not pay for is one issue that must be addressed.

“Here in Jamaica, though energy efficiency is very important, we have another problem we need to solve, and that is the amount of electricity that gets used but not paid for. It’s a high percentage, about 18 per cent, and I understand we’re up there with Haiti and Honduras in regard to this,” said Williams, while addressing a session on energy efficiency during Thursday’s opening day of the fourth Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) Ministerial Meeting in Montego Bay, St James.

“In talking about energy efficiency, I know there’s a portion of the population for whom that matter is very relevant, and, for a large segment of the population, we have to solve this problem first. If we’re able to move this 18 per cent number down, it will be to all our benefits, because those of us who are paying (for electricity) right now are paying that cost whether we know it or not,” added Williams, who further noted that Jamaica ranks among the top three Caribbean countries regarding the use of unpaid electricity in the Caribbean.

In 2014, a study from the Caribbean Policy Research Institute revealed that approximately 150,000 Jamaicans who steal electricity are forcing paying customers to pay J$100 for every J$1,000 of electricity used by legitimate clients. Last April, the Jamaica Public Service Company indicated that it loses approximately J$9 billion annually to electricity theft.

Williams expressed the hope that the ECPA conference’s discussions may lead to methods of effectively communicating to Jamaicans the importance of paying for their energy consumption.

“I’m sure we can put our heads together and come up with a programme that will be attractive to persons in society, so we can move them to become the kind of consumers we want, to get them paying for the product and then to think about the efficiency measures they can bring to bear on their consumption,” said Williams.

The World Bank currently grades Jamaica’s level of energy efficiency at 45 out of 100 points, and its use of renewable energy at 54 out of 100.