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Cease and desist!OUR lights up JPS over power-cut policy

Published:Wednesday | May 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Albert Gordon

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

THE OFFICE of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has flexed its muscles by issuing an immediate cease-and-desist order to the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) of its current actions that serve to curtail electricity to communities where 70 per cent of residents are stealing power.

And in a quick response following an email from The Gleaner, the JPS said it will comply with the cease-and-desist order from the regulatory body. "The company will comply with this directive, but will continue discussions with all stakeholders to arrive at long-term solutions to the widespread problem of electricity theft, which has reached crisis proportions."

The OUR said yesterday that failure to comply with its directive would render the JPS liable for prosecution, pursuant to Section 9 of the OUR Act. "The OUR is of the view that legitimate consumers ought not to have been affected by JPS's actions," the regulatory body declared.

The OUR's decision followed a meeting with a JPS team where, having considered the information given by the company, the OUR concluded that JPS' actions amounted to breaches of provisions under the Amended and Restated All-Island Electric Licence, 2011; the JPS's Standard Terms and Conditions of Service; and the Public Utilities Protection Act, 1984.

Director general of the OUR, Albert Gordon, said while he understood that as part of its loss-reduction strategy JPS needed to tackle the problem of electricity theft, paying customers should not be deliberately deprived of reliable and adequate service, which JPS is committed to providing in its agreement with these customers.

The OUR said its investigations will continue and JPS has been instructed to provide outstanding information to the regulator by 10 a.m. today.

Yesterday, junior minister for energy, Julian Robinson, told his parliamentary colleagues that the top brass of the JPS has been summoned to Jamaica House by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller today to iron out what appeared to be a deadlock between the Government and the light and power company over steps taken by the utility provider to reduce power to communities with a high level of electricity theft.

Robinson said the prime minister was concerned about the latest JPS policy development.

While acknowledging the dangers associated with electricity theft, Robinson argued that he could not countenance a case where the good suffer with the bad.

Opposition Spokesman on Energy Karl Samuda suggested that a meeting should be convened between the JPS and members of the House of Representatives to come up with ideas to assist the company to survive.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com