High bills driven by increased usage; falling oil prices not a major factor – JPS
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) says residential customers have increased consumption of electricity since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak by an overall three per cent due to the fact that many are spending more time at home.
The JPS said in release that in some cases residential customers have even increased their electricity consumption varying from five to 50 per cent.
“People who would have been out of the home working, for at least eight hours, are now working at home, alongside children who are being home-schooled, due to safety measures introduced to limit the spread of COVID-19,” the JPS said.
The company noted, however, that it has seen an overall decrease in the consumption of electricity by approximately 2.5 per cent for the month of March.
“Customers who used the same number of kilowatt hours in the present bill, as the previous one, will notice that their current bill has remained relatively level,” the JPS said.
In addition to the increased usage, the JPS also clarified the situation surrounding oil prices on the world market as this relates to JPS bills.
“Up to a few years ago, the country was more than 90 per cent dependent on oil. As a consequence, customers’ bills were impacted by the volatility of oil prices and both the JPS and Government of Jamaica sought to diversify the country’s fuel mix to protect customers and promote energy security,” the energy company said.
In 2016, the company said liquefied natural gas (LNG) was first introduced into the mix.
“Today, the fuel mix is approximately one third oil, two thirds liquefied natural gas, with a small percentage in renewables. At this present time, LNG prices remain constant and higher than oil,” the JPS continued.
With this mix, the company said the fall in oil prices will not register significantly on bills.
“This situation was completely unforeseen and indeed unprecedented. Additionally, the JPS cannot simply switch back to oil, as it has contractual commitments for the consumption of LNG.”
The JPS then reminded customers to use energy efficiently at this time, in order to manage their energy costs.
The company also encouraged customers to observe the usage chart to the left of the bill which gives a visual representation of the customers’ usage trend each month.