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JSIF's fix to electricity theft - Several lessons learnt from World Bank programme on regularisation

Published:Sunday | July 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM

After four years of trying to get persons in selected communities to stop stealing electricity, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) believes it has learnt lessons which could help to reduce the theft of electricity islandwide.

With an estimated 150,000 and 200,000 households stealing electricity, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) and the government is embarking on measures to reduce the theft which is costing the company millions each month.

But managing director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, says the conversion of non-paying customers to paying clients requires interventions which take note of the significant challenges involved.

"It is important to analyse and make provisions for the full chain of activities required to support the transformation of consumers of electricity into paying customers," says Gillings.

She argues that this project must include support for the wiring of premises and Government Electrical Inspector (GEI) certification as well as additional support towards the registering of a new account.

"Alternative ways to reach 'elusive' residents need to be devised. The costs of making multiple efforts to reach these customers need to be weighed against the benefits. Some flexibility in the delivery mode of benefits could be provided to increase coverage," adds Gillings.

Give incentives

She further argues that incentives including the provision of energy saving devices such as fluorescent bulbs, education on energy conservation and digital timers could be integrated into regularisation efforts to help consumers to manage consumption.

JSIF is now in the second year of a World Bank funded programme to regularise homes which previously used electricity off the grid without paying.

According to JSIF more than half of those homes are now paying customers, but further support is necessary for higher levels of compliance.