JPS Requests Special Court to Handle Electricity Theft

The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) appealed to the Government for a dedicated special utility court to help stamp out electricity theft as the full weight of the justice system could be thrown behind the issue, to deal with cases.

The senior management of the JPS stressed that the laws against electricity theft are in need of strengthening, and JPS shoulders the important part of electricity theft already and pay for it as an organisation, even though they shouldn’t. The judicial system should give the specific focus to electricity theft that it deserves. JPS reported that it’s mostly outside of their control. 

They have spent a tremendous amount of money and they continue to devote a lot of their resources and their workers time to install a lot of technical devices that are necessary to modernize the grid.

However, the technological solutions are not the ones that will eliminate theft and they never will be, this means technology is not the answer, Michel Gantios, the president and chief executive officer of the JPS, told the meeting of Parliament’s joint select committee on the 2015 Electricity Act. Ramsay McDonald the Senior vice-president of customer service, also pointed out that, strengthening the court system so to deal with electricity theft would be good. 

The JPS revealed that one in every four households, steal the power they consume, this costs the company US$200 million last year. In 2020 1000 persons were arrested for stealing electricity. The light and power company disclosed the fact that no country that was plagued by electricity theft were able to stamp out the scourge without Government’s help.

Chief Operating Officer Gary Barrow argued that the focus needs to be on the Government, and the socio-economic activity needs to be addressed. The judicial system should be fully up to date on what the problem is, so they can be equipped to deal with it. A very firm stance should be taken, to put it squarely on the table that this crime cannot be allowed to continue.

A recommendation was made to the House committee by the JPS, due to the prevalence of electricity theft. The company also recommended that police teams should be specially trained to identify the crime and prosecute the perpetrators. 

The JPS wants to be given critical national security infrastructure designation also, in the amended Electricity Act. As electricity grids are now seen as a critical infrastructure for modern societies and they require national security protection. They provide energy and power to important entities within Jamaica and therefore they cannot be left exposed to vandalism, cyberattack, trespassing and theft of their critical infrastructure.

Added to that the JPS is calling for swift passage of regulations to ban the use of incandescent light bulbs, because they are the bulbs that the people who steal electricity use.

The company also said, the Government should advance wiring and certification assistance to households, as this is a barrier to legal supply for low-income households.

McDonald argued that the Government needs to assist because there are a number of applications that come in, requiring safe, reliable electricity.

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