Thieves outwit new security measures in Jamaica


Kingston, Jamaica — (METERING.COM) — December 9, 2008 – Despite the introduction of a new mechanism to clamp down on electricity theft, householders are still managing to tap into power sources, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) has reported.
Earlier in the year the electricity provider started to install concentric neutral cables in some areas to reduce the number of illegal connections. These cables make electricity theft more difficult as a metal casing covers the wires that transmit the electrical power.
However, head of the Department of Engineering and Technology at JPS, Steve Dixon, has said that thieves have been melting the metal casings to access the electrical conductors.

The vice-president for customer operations, Sangeet Dutta, added that the situation has been exacerbated because thieves often run joined wires for more than 200 m from power transformer bushings to their homes, which further increases the risk of electrical shocks.
Dutta has reported that the JPS has been working with the police to curb electricity theft. However, there are weaknesses in the law, which provide an incentive for electricity theft. According to Dutta, the JPS can only recover charges for electricity stolen over a two-year period at the rate it had cost the company to produce it. Proposals will be made to change this next year.

In addition other measures under consideration to curtail theft include the relocation of electrical meters from houses to external poles, and the expansion of the AMI system, currently for commercial customers, to residential customers.

JPS has also tightened up its disconnection policy for non-payment. Customers who fail to pay their bills by the due date now face an increased risk of disconnection, as JPS now disconnects for non-payment on any weekday, including Fridays. Customers who are disconnected are required to pay a reconnection fee of $1,441 (US$19), and could also be asked to pay an upgrade on their deposit.