Update | Councillor lights up JPS over deposit fee increase
Dawnett Foster, councillor for the Cornwall Mountain division in the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC), has described a decision by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to increase the initial deposit by new residential applicants by 300 per cent as “slackness”.
Foster said the sudden increase from $1,500 to $6,000 for new residential applicants and $6,000 to $10,000 for small commercial operators was exorbitant and could result in more people trying to beat the system by illegally extracting electricity.
She was speaking after an announcement of the new figures by Jullite Reeves, an administrative assistant at JPS, during last Thursday’s monthly meeting of the WMC.
“JPS is upgrading deposit after more than 10 years of it being at the same level,” said Reeves.
The changes took effect on June 1.
But the councillors were taken aback by the jump in fees.
“I think what they are coming with now is total slackness,” responded an obviously annoyed Foster.
“JPS has decided to take the easy route out of their problems by increasing the fees for paying customers instead of trying to get those extracting electricity illegally on the grid,” said Foster. “So you are telling us (legal customers) now that we can go out there and throw up, and at the end of the day, you are going to come to us as councillors for us to talk to the residents, [but] I can’t do that.
“I am asking JPS to desist and try not to encourage slackness,” continued Foster, urging the utility company to ramp up efforts to get more people on its pay-as-you-go system to blunt electricity theft.
‘Where is the OUR?‘
Ian Myles, councillor for the Little London division, questioned how the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) could have approved such an exorbitant increase.
“If this is what prosperity is, then my God! ... Where is the OUR in all this?” asked Myles.
JPS Director of Corporate Communications Winsome Callum told The Gleaner that the “new deposit amount would apply only to those persons opening residential and small commercial accounts, ... as well as persons who are disconnected twice or more in a 12-month period”.
She said that customers requiring the pay-as-you-go service would not be required to pay a deposit.
Callum added that a new deposit refund facility gives residential customers who have paid 24 months’ bills on time and in full the option to claim the refund of their deposit, adding that the information was posted to the company’s website last month.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story indicated that the residential deposit rate moved from $1,500 to $10,000. It has, in fact, risen from $1,500 to $6,000.
We regret the error.