Light Bills Fall, As J$ Rises And Fuel Prices Slump


Consumers are set to see a reduction in their electricity bills within the coming weeks.
Minister of Energy and Mining, Hon. James Robertson, says that given the decrease in fuel prices and the revaluation of the Jamaican dollar, customers across all tariff groups will see a marginal reduction in their energy bills for the month of June.
He said that he expects the downward trend to continue throughout this quarter.
The reductions come despite the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) granting the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) an annual inflation adjustment of 1.9 per cent, in accordance with JPS’ 2001 licence.
In a release on the matter on Friday night, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) said that customers should see decreases of up to 2.35 per cent in their electricity bills in July.
The JPS explained that, although the OUR made an annual inflation adjustment in keeping with the company’s 2001 licence, the inflation adjustment is expected to be offset by decreases in fuel charges and the revaluation of the Jamaican Dollar against its US counterpart.
“When combined, the inflation adjustment, the lower fuel charges and foreign exchange rates are expected to result in a decrease of about 1.34 per cent on the bill of a typical residential customer using 200 KWH per month. A typical large commercial customer will see a reduction of approximately 2.35 per cent on the July bill, compared to bills received in June. June’s invoices will also reflect a modest decrease relative to May,” the JPS said.
The JPS also pointed out that, unlike other businesses, as a regulated entity, it cannot unilaterally change its prices, but must submit an application to the OUR each year for the inflation adjustment, outside of the years when a complete tariff review is done. Under the 2001 licence the JPS is entitled to a rate adjustment every five years, with the next one due in 2014. The annual inflation adjustment is applied to the non-fuel portion of electricity bills.
The Ministry of Energy and Mining is actively on course to diversify Jamaica’s fuel source to include Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), in a bid to reduce energy costs before the next rate adjustment is due.
Conservative estimates suggest that, if LNG had already been brought on stream, the annual savings would be in the region of US$900 million.
Over the past week, the Ministry and the JPS have engaged in consultations with stakeholders in the hotel and tourism, as well as the manufacturing and productive sectors. The consultations addressed concerns about the cost of energy to productivity and viability of the sector.
Arising out of meetings with representatives of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA), the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA), the Consumer Affairs Commission, as well as Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Minister Robertson says consensus has been fostered among the business community around the government’s policy of energy diversification through the introduction of LNG.

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