Sat | Dec 3, 2016

JPS recruits poverty agency to fight electricity theft

Published:Wednesday | November 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) is spending $30 million on a one-year pilot to regularise electricity connections in seven low-income communities in the capital.

Under the anti-theft project, which will affect some 30,137 residents, JPS in partnership with poverty agency Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), will connect homes to the electricity grid, fund energy audits and a behaviour change programme, and offer skills training to selected residents as electricians through HEART Trust/NTA.

Revenue leakage to theft from these communities was not disclosed but JPS says their non-technical losses - that is, electricity consumed but not paid for - range from 35 per cent to 90 per cent of supplies.

Across Jamaica, JPS loses about US$30 million to electricity theft annually, according to previous reports. The company estimates that some 200,000 Jamaicans steal its supplies.

The anti-theft pilot will be implemented by the JSIF, which signed a memorandum of understanding with the JPS for the so-called Skills Training Education and Progress through Utility Partnership Programme (STEPUP).

As outlined by JPS, residents of Majesty Gardens, McGregor Gardens, Denham Town, Tower Hill, Arnett Gardens, Whitfield Town and Payne Land will receive electricity service at tariff rates set by the Office of Utilities Regulation.

Billing Options

They will also be offered with budget billing and pre-paid metering options.

JPS will train community facilitators and JSIF representatives to conduct energy audits as well as customer service procedures. The power utility will establish a local JPS contact centre for each community, and provide households with energy-efficient light bulbs.

JSIF will oversee the wiring of houses and light bulb and refrigerator gasket swaps, oversee skills training, implement the public education programme, and recruit and manage community facilitators.

Within the first community targeted, McGregor Gully, 100 houses will be wired. In other communities, houses will be re-certified. Community labour will be used in installations where possible, JPS said in background documents on the project.

JSIF chairman Collin Bullock said STEPUP will integrate lessons learned from three previous World Bank-funded electricity regularisation projects carried out by JSIF, under which compliance of 67 per cent was achieved.

The project will run for a year, from November 7, 2014 to November 6, 2015, but may be extended, depending on its results, said Omar Sweeney, regional director of JPS East.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com