Denham Town residents who spoke to The Gleaner admitted that before the Jamaica Public Service's (JPS) drive to cut illegal connections, they were not paying for electricity, but since the new system, put in place a few years ago, they are not only paying for current usage but are being billed for the years of non-payment.
Some said they would much prefer a flat-rate system, as opposed to the prepaid.
"A flat rate we want. We willing to pay we little for light, but not no prepaid thing," said 33-year-old Tenisha Barrett, who has lived there all her life.
"We not working and is not all the time we will have money to buy credit. If we run out a credit, we light a guh wey and round here wi lick out anytime, so we can't do without light."
The mother of six said her electricity bill currently averages $9,000 per month.
"If you put $2,000 credit on it, how long that going to last if now we getting bill for $9,000, $17,000, $30,000 and them money deh?" asked Mitzy Brown, 39.
"We not working and round here can get hot, so we can't do without light. Flat rate we say."
Needs to hear more
Showing her bill for $54,000, 40-year-old Sheryl Jackson said she would prefer to hear more about the system before making a decision. Fellow residents, 47-year-old Angela Bartilow and 49-year-old Maxine Jacks, agree.
"We will have to hear the details to see how it will work, JPS will have to explain it first," said Jacks.
The prepaid prospect also brought mixed reaction in sections of Majesty Gardens, Kingston, which also had several illegal connections removed recently.
"I don't see a thing like that working in Jamaica," said 46-year-old Clive Banton, who has lived in Majesty Gardens since birth.
"When wi get wi bill, wi have more time to hustle the money and pay it. When prepaid credit done, it just done and if yuh nuh have no money to buy more credit you affi do without light until you raise a money again."
Fellow resident Anthony Mattison, 39, agrees.
"When me get a bill, me can work little, little and pay it. Me can't do that wid the prepaid meter. A England system that. Them used to that; me nuh see it a work inna Jamaica," Mattison said.
However, 35-year-old Kenisha Swaby didn't agree.
"It don't sound bad; it better than me don't have light. When me have money me just buy credit, if me nuh have no money, a just suh. At least me woulda have one less bill to worry 'bout. If it come down here, me woulda try it," Swaby shared.
"Me know nuff people will want it."
As an afterthought, Mattison noted that prepaid metering would cut down on electricity theft.
"You know say when a man haffi buy credit fi get him light, him a guh tink it hard fi gi a man light, dough. When a man throw the wire gi him fi hook up, him haffi tink bout the lickle credit him just buy fi serve him. Him nah guh do it, trust me," Mattison expressed.
According to Winsome Callum, head of corporate communications for JPS, the company is currently working out the details of the prepaid system, which includes the provider that will be selected. JPS will also embark on an extensive public-education campaign before the expected mid-year implementation.