Regional

JPS fights back

Power company battles US$7-m loss to electricity theft in St James, Hanover

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, September 21, 2017

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — With losses amounting to over US$7 million within the past 12 months due to electricity theft in the parishes of Hanover and St James, the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) is warning that people involved in the illegal activity will be caught.

“We are losing close to US$7 million in theft or non-technical losses in both parishes, with St James carrying the bulk,” Wayne Jackson, JPS manager for St James and Hanover, told the Jamaica Observer West.

Stressing that the days of people illegally abstracting electricity from the light and power company are numbered, Jackson said individuals engaged in the illegal activity will not escape detection with the introduction of the new Hexing system by year end.

“For those who would have been enjoying the benefit [of electricity theft], we now have the technology, we now have the team, and we now have the resolve. We are coming to get you, we are coming to find losses,” Jackson cautioned.

“It is time for them to come to us and regularise and normalise their services. It is time for them to partner with us to have a safe and reliable electricity, because we can't sit by and support the risk to life and property that these set-ups promote.”

He explained that Hexing is “an improved or more advanced” version of the Residential Advanced Metering Infrastructure system.

“What Hexing provides is enhanced capabilities. We have tested it and the improved communication is 99.9 per cent. It's that good! The issues you had with the RAMI in terms of communication, all that stuff should be rectified as soon as we implement it later this year,” the senior JPS member said, adding that the system is already in the island.

In the meantime, Jackson disclosed that an elite team is now in the western parishes combing the network in search of electricity theft and other losses.

“We now have a special team that is focusing on losses every single day. We have relooked and revamped the team that is only focused on losses. They are now going through the parishes using technology, using intelligence, using random inspections and those stuff to find losses,” Jackson revealed.

Meanwhile, Lestar MaGrath, JPS large account technical officer, who heads the specialised team, noted that three large account customers found to be stealing electricity were arrested last week.

“We made three arrests – two in Hanover, one in Montego Bay, where we found some large apartments stealing electricity. We are focusing on these areas. We have new technology now to find them,” MaGrath disclosed.

“We have a specialised team to deal with losses and it is going to be ongoing. We are installing our smart meters in some of these communities and it is helping us to identify where the losses are. And also, we have other devices to show us how to find these thefts. I want the people to know we are coming at them; we know where they are and what they are doing.”

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