The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) launched its project to deploy smart electric meters nationwide to ensure grid reliability and stability.According to a local publication, this year alone, the utility company plans to install 20,000 smart meters at a cost of $5 million.
The project will focus on seven Jamaican parishes Kingston, St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann, St Mary, St James and Westmoreland.
Consumers will have their meters replaced with the new meters free of charge.
Commenting on the development, Gary Barrow, chief technology officer at JPS, said: "We're actually putting more intelligence in the grid to provide the stability and reliability that is going to be necessary when we start to integrate mass amounts of these renewables and that is really the start of our smart grid, the primary driver."
[quote] To date, the utility has installed more than 50,000 units in its grid network, a development which allows JPS to have consumers’ power usage patterns.
However, the Jamaican power company said it has not yet managed to improve its customer engagement on the new system to allow customers to view their usage data online via their mobile devices.
Barrow added that three applications will be launched before the end of the year to ensure consumers are able to receive outage notifications and restoration times as well as access their power bills online. [Jamaican utility selects Silver Spring for smart grid project].
"All of our appliances in a short while will become Wi-Fi-enabled and it will mean that you will be able to use your smartphone wherever you are, whatever time, to actually look at your devices, to get access to your devices and turn them on and off," reiterated Barrow.
Smart meters funding
In the third quarter of 2015, JPS announced that it plans to spend $40 million over the next five years to improve its electricity grid including deploying residential smart meters to reduce power losses. [Smart grid: Jamaica smart grid | Cybersecurity growth].
$6 million to $8 million will be spent annually on technology upgrades including smart meters, said the utility company.
A local publication reported that suspected electricity theft, which cost the utility $18.4 million in 2014, prompted the grid modernisation effort.