JPS predicts more outages due to theft

October 21, 2021
A utility pole in Majesty Gardens, St Andrew.
A utility pole in Majesty Gardens, St Andrew.

Light and power company Jamaica Public Service (JPS) has expressed fear that customers will see more frequent and much longer power outages because of the suspension of the company's Transformer Protection Programme by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR).

The OUR, which regulates the electricity sector, last week told the JPS to immediately cease and desist the operation of its Transformer Protection Programme pilot project. The JPS said it initiated the project to protect its equipment from huge, unpredictable overload and premature failure.

The OUR's decision follows complaints about prolonged power outages in several communities, with reports of many occurring daily. Residents who are paying customers of the JPS, say they are being punished by the light and power company, which regularly turns off electricity in areas where there is a high level of theft.

The JPS, however, said that it implemented the project to protect its equipment from huge, unpredictable overload and premature failure.

"There have been at least 110 premature transformer failures due to such loads between January 2020 and August 2021, at a replacement cost of more than $25 million," the JPS said.

Its President and CEO Michel Gantois said, "We are shocked that the OUR would frustrate our efforts to protect our equipment and manage outages faced by our customers due to unauthorised overload."

"It is unfair that this equipment-failure replacement cost is borne by JPS and its paying customers. Good customers will face long outages while we dispatch our teams to replace equipment, which will invariably be destroyed again," the JPS CEO added.

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