JPS aims at better customer delivery, smart grids

Published:Monday | March 20, 2023 | 12:27 AM Heneka Watkis-Porter/ – Contributor

A man walks by the Jamaica Public Service building on Knutsford Boulevard.

The Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) celebrates its 100th anniversary in May 2023, having provided power to the island since before Jamaica’s independence. As the light and power company marks its milestone, it offers an opportunity to reflect on the past and celebrate the achievements of the last 100 years.

Jamaica received electricity in 1892 – 13 years after Thomas Edison’s invention of the electric lamp – making it one of the first countries to do so, ahead of much of the United States. Over the years, Jamaica has seen much growth and development in its electricity sector.

Michel Gantois, a Belgian native who now leads JPS, says putting employees’ interests at the forefront is key to the company’s success.

“The way the employees carry themselves embodies a tremendous history, mission, legacy, and pride in breaking records, including having electricity before New York,” said Gantois.

He pointed out that bringing development while serving its customer base presents challenges. The topography and geography of the land account for this difficulty. Electricity theft exacerbates these challenges.

Nevertheless, over 98 per cent of the island is on the national grid, including those who illegally use it. Gantois acknowledges that electricity theft has worsened over the years. The increase in fuel prices and the war in Ukraine have magnified this problem; the percentage of thievery remains the same, but the cost has increased.

The JPS CEO thinks the island has progressed. He said, “Customers forget there were days when they did not have electricity 24 hours a day. There were days when we had longer blackouts; days when electricity generated more pollutants; and when no distribution cables were going up the hills. There has been a tremendous achievement from those times.”


Gantois said that over the years, the power distribution company has been upgrading its service delivery. The mobile app, he said, is perhaps a best-kept secret. Yet there is work to be done, including improving communication with customers, and society on the whole. They aim to push for more innovative solutions, and to address challenges such as electric vehicles and electricity theft.

Gantois informed that JPS has a range of initiatives lined up for the 100th year anniversary. These will include customer appreciation events across the island, customer awards, scholarships for students starting university, a ‘100 days of winning’ promotion, and more.

He added that revitalising the JPS Foundation is high on the agenda, as well as the roll-out of its environmental sustainability blueprint, in partnership with the Forestry Department and the National Environment and Planning Agency, for reforestation and restoration of the mangroves.

JPS, Gantois said, has been at the forefront of Jamaica’s fuel diversification strategy with its renewable facilities, the introduction of LNG, and facilitating the addition of renewables to the grid by independent power producers or through net billing arrangements. He added that the company is working towards creating a smart grid.

According to the CEO, one of the biggest risks to this transformation journey with ambitious targets is the implementation phase, which is the hard part. The ways and directions of working have to change. And as the company continues to pursue change, they need all hands on deck. This includes the appropriate government organisations, partners, and major corporations. It is a challenge that Gantois said his team is equipped and prepared to take on.


Heneka Watkis-Porter is an entrepreneur, author, podcast, TV show host.


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