Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company, Vernon Douglas, says the organisation is lobbying the Government to put a Task Force in place to combat electricity theft in the island.
Addressing the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) Public Consultation on the JPS’s 2019-2024 tariff review, held in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth, on March 10, Mr Douglas said too many persons are still stealing electricity.
“This is a monster that impacts us (the JPS) and you, our customers. The JPS took down 200,000 ‘throw-ups’ last year. We are not a police force. We have asked the Government to create a special task force to deal with utility theft, both electricity and water so that we can have a police unit that works with us constantly,” Mr Douglas said.
‘Throw ups’ refer to illegally connected wires that persons place on JPS power lines to steal electricity.
“This is a monster that impacts us (the JPS) and you, our customers…We are not a police force.”
Further, the CFO noted that the company is also proposing that the Government ban the use of incandescent light bulbs, as persons who steal electricity tend to gravitate towards that light source.
“You can buy one 10-kilowatt LED bulb, which gives the same illumination that a 100-kilowatt incandescent light bulb gives, so even if persons are stealing electricity using a LED light, having removed those incandescent light bulbs from the market, we would save 90 per cent of the electricity. You, our paying customers are doing it at home, so let us get these incandescent bulbs out of the market,” Mr Douglas said.
Social intervention for those who “genuinely” can’t afford electricity
He added that the company understands that some persons steal electricity because they are unable to pay for it, and as such, it is also proposing that the Government put in place a programme similar to that of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) for those persons.
“We know we have the genuine poor in our society. We have said to the Government that if a man or a woman has to be on PATH for education, we need a PATH programme for the genuinely poor persons in our country,” Mr Douglas outlined.
The consultation was held to give residents of the parish an opportunity to air their views on the JPS’s proposed rate increase of 4.69 per cent.
The JPS is investing some $68 billion over the next four years to facilitate improvement projects islandwide. These projects include generation plant upgrades, smart LED street-light installations, grid modernisation and transmission systems upgrade.
Queries from residents were fielded by President and Chief Executive Officer of JPS, Emanuel DaRosa.