Wed | Sep 23, 2020

Blackout Friday - Standpipe residents rush to regularise JPS supply as disconnection deadline nears

Published:Wednesday | August 5, 2020 | 12:29 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Yvette Burke Pearson, a resident of Standpipe, St Andrew, is instructed by Jamaica Public Service Company technician Sheldon Simms on the correct steps to take when inputting credit into the prepaid keypad on Tuesday. The community will, as at Friday, be t
Yvette Burke Pearson, a resident of Standpipe, St Andrew, is instructed by Jamaica Public Service Company technician Sheldon Simms on the correct steps to take when inputting credit into the prepaid keypad on Tuesday. The community will, as at Friday, be transferred to a prepaid metering system that has been set up to combat electricity theft.

Residents of Standpipe in St Andrew have until Friday, August 7, to regularise their electricity supply or be disconnected indefinitely.

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) said that more than 80 per cent of householders have been transferred to a new system, Hexing Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

JPS Programme Manager Marilyn McDonald said that 300 of an approximate 440 households in the community had initially got on to the grid legally. By Tuesday afternoon, 63 others had been transferred to AMI, an energy-management platform interacting with smart meters and sensors.

Lester McKenzie, project officer in Standpipe, said that JPS had informed residents of the switchover from as far back as March.

“They have been informed, but you know sometimes you tell them and they wait ‘til last minute ... . From the initial stage from we started, we have been telling them.”

The power company has sought to replace the older model with the CDU because it was vulnerable to breaches by electricity thieves. JPS said that it spent US$659,000 on the new system.

Standpipe is among the communities with the highest percentage of non-technical losses, JPS said. In Standpipe’s case, non-technical losses are nearly 60 per cent.

The JPS said that Standpipe is the 16th community where the project has been tested.

“We are going around and trying to regularise the communities as best as possible ... on culture change and mindset change as it relates to bill payment,” McDonald told The Gleaner.

“We want persons to just get into the habit that if you use a commodity, you pay for that commodity.”

Customers will have to purchase credit and top up on the prepaid metering system where they can monitor consumption patterns.

“The power is in your hand ... . When you change from just using electricity to when you start pay for it, is a different mindset,” the programme manager said.

Meanwhile, the light and power company went on a drive recently to remove illegal connections.

JPS said that its crews that carried out operations in east Kingston communities removed 1,235 pounds of illegal connections.

Throw-ups were seized at Bundy Lane, Deanery Road, St Albans Lane, Bowerbank, Rae Town, Tower Street, Hanover Street, and Hannah Street.

Two arrests were made.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com