‘It nuh fair !’ - Residents of Golden Grove Meadows bemoan exorbitant light bills from JPS
As if their struggle with a sewage issue in their neighbourhood isn’t enough of a burden, the recently relocated ex-sugar workers and their families at Golden Grove Meadows in St Thomas are bemoaning exorbitant light bills, which they say have resulted in numerous disconnections over the past few weeks.
Iciline Williams, who occupies a two-bedroom house with her husband, said that her most recent bill received from the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) totalled some 20-odd thousand dollars, despite her deliberate efforts to minimise power usage.
“Mi nuh have nothing fi a pay so much money fi light … no Internet, no nothing. Only thing me have a one little fridge here suh, a TV, and see the fan cord deh … it plug out, and that’s how I do it throughout the day. The only thing left plugged in when me going out is the fridge. Me not using nothing fi a pay six and seven thousand dollar fi light a month time, that a wickedness and sin,” she exclaimed.
Williams further lamented the absence of a meter in her yard.
According to her, “We supposed to have we meter weh we can look and seh, well we a burn this amount of current. This is foolishness! You a pay for light and you don’t know what you burning. Right now my light bill gone up to 20-odd thousand dollars and I’m not working and I’m a sickly somebody. Mi nuh know how mi a guh pay this light bill weh a bank up on me. Mi a wait fi it cut off any time. The other day the light all gone and mi start fret seh a cut it cut off because that’s what dem doing, just a cut off light suh and you nuh know when dem a do it. Me want JPS fi hear me voice. Dem a overcharge people for the light. It nuh fair. Either dem give we meter so we can see wah we a burn or something, but dem a overcharge us.”
Another resident explained that upon relocating to the scheme in 2016, they were told that they were being considered for the Pay as You Go (PAYG) service offered by the power company.
However, according to the woman, only some 17 of the over 100 households were successful in acquiring the service.
“To be honest, not everybody did go and apply because people never really understand it. Dem seh 40 a we fi come in batch one and a only 17 go and dem get through. From that we nuh hear nothing more about it,” she shared when The Gleaner visited the compound on Saturday.
In her response to the issues raised by the residents, media and public relations manager at JPS, Audrey Williams, revealed that persons had begun moving into the community prematurely, thus only a few were offered the PAYG solution.
“At the outset, a small group of persons had actually started moving into the Golden Grove Meadows community before it was fully ready, and after dialogue with various persons, a number of residents (17) were offered a prepaid (PAYG) solution. Upon full readiness of the scheme, the implementation of the Residential Advanced Metering Infrastructure system was introduced. Under this system, meters are not on the houses, but are in enclosures on poles in the community.
“It should, however, be noted that the subsequent applications for connection were for postpaid service,” she said, adding that a representative visited the neighbourhood on Sunday to relate plans to upgrade the metering infrastructure to accommodate both prepaid and postpaid across the community.
Touching on the cries of the cost of electricity, Williams noted the increased usage of appliances, based on people spending more time at home; the recent devaluation of the Jamaican dollar and the cost of fuel have all contributed to the increase in electricity cost.
However, she said that various relief measures have been offered by the company to assist the elderly and disabled, and also that the company has been appealing to customers experiencing difficulties in paying their bills to reach out so that a suitable arrangement can be made.