What were the main focuses for JPS in 2018?
Our number-one focus has always been safety. Safety is paramount in our sector, and we have been working to ensure safety in all areas of operations. Some of the safest companies in the world also have some of the highest efficiency levels. There is a great correlation between these factors. This leads to our second focus, which is to be the most efficient organization possible. For JPS to be successful, it needs to deliver energy at the lowest possible cost to its customers so they can be competitive locally, regionally, and internationally. That is why in 2018 we invested approximately USD116 million to improve Jamaica's electrical infrastructure, providing better service to our customers. To date, this is the highest level of investment in Jamaica's energy sector in a single year. We have also focused on technical and non-technical losses. Power losses in Jamaica stand at about 27%, which includes both technical and non-technical losses. In the technical area, we have implemented a number of projects, including voltage standardization on our distribution feeders on the north coast. On the non-technical side, almost 20% of all the power we produce is stolen, which is a major challenge. Our anti-theft strategy is multifaceted and includes the use of technology and analytics to identify the more sophisticated cases of electricity abstraction; account audits and investigations; removal of illegal throw-up lines; partnership with the security forces for the arrest of perpetrators; and the implementation of community intervention programs. Moreover, we installed 100,000 smart meters in 2018 to improve our efficiency.
Do you plan to expand throughout Jamaica?
We are currently constructing our 190-MW power plant at Old Harbor, which will operate on natural gas as its primary fuel. This plant is being built, at a cost of USD330 million, to replace older generation capacity that burns heavy fuel oil and is not as environmentally friendly as natural gas. The new plant will also be almost twice as efficient. This will help improve the economy, as well as the environment and the overall performance of JPS.
What are JPS' strategies to continue to increase its market share?
As other power plants come to the end of their lives, we will replace them with modern plants. We are also looking at where we need to go with renewables to capitalize on Jamaica's water, wind, and solar resources. At present, 11% of Jamaica's energy comes from renewables, and the long-term goal is increase that to 50%. We are currently looking at a few projects that could take us to the 20-25% range. On the non-renewables side, it is about maintaining the fossil fuel fleet and converting from oil to natural gas, which is much cleaner.
How is JPS using technology to bring new and better services?
Technology is a big part of our present and future. We are putting in smart meters that will automatically send us data if the power goes off at a particular location and enable customers to check their electricity consumption online. We are also putting in smart street lighting, so we will know immediately when streetlights have gone off, and we will also have the ability to dim them to save energy. In the last few years, we have significantly expanded our customer service contact points, primarily as a result of feedback from our customers, who want more options and greater convenience in doing business. As a result, we have an expanded online customer service team that serves our customers via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter 24/7. Additionally, we are working to improve our mobile app, which currently has nearly 20,000 subscribers. In terms of billing, we have introduced a pre-paid option for electricity, which has enabled users to save up to 30% on their bills.