My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: JPS Co New Digital Meters are all Smart Meters - Winsome Callum's A Simple Twist of Fate

Monday, October 10, 2011

JPS Co New Digital Meters are all Smart Meters - Winsome Callum's A Simple Twist of Fate


When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.

John M. Richardson, Jr.

Looks like the electricity bills are set to get higher due to the installation of more accurate Digital Meters in keeping with International Best Practice as stated in the article “Brace For Bigger JPS Bills - New, Accurate Meters Are Installed”, published October 9 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner. The JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company) Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum made this clear in another Press Release to the Sunday Gleaner on Sunday October 9th 2011. 



Amidst all the political excitement in Jamaica due to Senator Andrew Holness being confirmed as JLP’s point man for election to the high office of Prime Minister and JLP Party Leader and the speculation about early General Elections as stated in the article “Holness’ Daunting Task ahead”, published Sunday October 9 2011 by Gary Spauldings, The Jamaica Gleaner, this article brought everyone back to reality. Electricity usage and its spiraling costs due to our country’s dependence on imported Oil affects everyone.


Especially if you use your fan or your Air conditioning all day, something which Jamaicans gripe is inescapable as we live in the Caribbean, 78 degrees below the Equator. So the rising costs of electricity due to Global Warming to fuel our 65% obsession with Air Conditioning and Cooling as noted in my blog article entitled “Dr. Taylor's states Global Warming increasing Jamaica's Energy Bill - Vybz Kartel's Summertime Soylent Green” is not comforting news.

So it amuses me to no end that their may be some protests about the new Digital Meters being installed, of which JPS Co is already in the process of deploying approximately six thousand (6,000) of them among Residential and Business Customers. The words of even James Samuels, BSJ (Bureau of Standards Jamaica) are of no comfort to the slowly gathering mob, quote: “Yes, there is a marginal difference. The Digital Meters are marginally more accurate than the electromechanical design”.

The explanation proffered for this in the article “Brace for Bigger JPS Bills – New accurate Meters are installed”, published Sunday October 9th 2011, Tyrone Reid, The Jamaica Gleaner? The electromechanical meters have a lower sensitivity than the Digital Meters, which begin reading electricity usage at a lower level than the new Digital Meters.

So says the Press Release by JPS Co Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum, quote: “These meters start measuring power use at a much lower level than the electromechanical meters and have a higher accuracy (0.5 per cent [0.5%] vs one [1%] per cent over the life of the meter) so a modest increase in the normal consumption is normal in some instances”. Modest KWh increase, but magnified by the cost of Imported Oil on the world market, sure to go up as we approach Peak Oil in 2015AD as per my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and the Caribbean - Peak Oil in 2015 and The Day After Tomorrow”.



Coupled with the worn gears that are used to display the reading (and JPS Co Meter Reading errors……that too is a unmentioned factor!!), the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) which presents the KWh (Kilowatt Hours) used in a easy to read format in the Digital Meters beats the Electromechanical Meters hands down.


Plus, like the Japanese Imported Used Cars, parts are in short supply for these electromechanical meters due to the International transition to the new Digital Meters, to quote the words of JPS Co Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum: “In fact, the industry move has led to not only a reduced supply of such meters (old analog meters), but also reduced supply in replacement parts for servicing electromechanical meters. Inevitably therefore, the local electricity utility has to keep in step with this global move”.

Jamaica, it seems, is being dragged and pulled into the modern “smart” meter world whether we like it or not. Wait a minute! Did I just say “smart” meter. Indeed I did, as the Digital Meters are indeed “smart” meters, despite the words of JPS Co Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum.

So an explanation for my conclusion is necessary, using pure logic and historical records yet again. And curiously enough, the evidence comes from JPS Co Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum herself!

Let me present Exhibit A; the Press Release to The Jamaica Gleaner itself by JPS Co Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum, quote: “There are four [4] broad types of meter installations being conducted at this time. The meter types all have different features, they are all digital (solid state no moving parts with LCD panels showing the recorded consumption) but they should not all be confused and are not all ‘smart’ meters”.

In my blog article entitled “Google invests US$75 million in Residential Solar PUC - Aliens in future Energy Market Shakeup” I highlighted the Residential Solar PUC (Power Utility Company) model, which effectively used smart meters, possibly running on Google Android OS to communicate remotely to their Main Server information that would be used to monitor customers power usage.

In the Residential Solar PUC, the Residential and Business Customer is really paying rental for:

1.      Solar (Photovoltaic) Panels
2.      Wind Turbines
3.      Installation and Maintenance
4.      Power usage in

This may be done in One Flat Rate Bill or via various other Billing arrangements, somewhat like paying for a Postpaid Plan for your mobile phone from a Telecom Provider, but most likely on a five (5) year contract.

Smart meters are not only just and International Standard, they are also a new means of Billing customers for power usage, as it makes running a PUC cheaper, as there is no need to have staff driving about collecting meter readings. Rather, the meters use either a Private Wireless Network or Powerline communication System to transmit the readings to the Main Billing Server to be stored on their AMA (Automated Messaging and Accounting) Records to generate monthly bills.

A good example of this is Duke Energy in the US of A, which is investing nearly US$1 billion to implement a smart metering facility that will take advantage of the 2G GPRS (Global Packet Radio Service), EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), 3G or LTE (Long Term Evolution) Broadband Inter net Wireless Networks of Telecom Provider AT&T and Telecom Provider Verizon as explained in my blog article entitled “AT&T overcharges for unlimited SMS again - Duke Energy's US$1 billion Investment in The Dead Zone”.

By virtue of their higher accuracy, it also allows a PUC the ability monitor in real time power consumption among its Residential and Business customers and presents the opportunity to offer other products in the future. Products such as:

1.      Pay-as-You-Go Electricity - pay for electricity in much the same way that you top up you Mobile phone
2.      Prepaid Electricity - pay for electricity in one (1) day, seven (7) day, fourteen (14) day or fortnightly or thirty (30) day usage
3.      Flat Rate Postpaid Electricity - pay one flat monthly payment based on a power audit to determine what you Class of Electricity Usage
4.      Power Audits – Provider accurate remote power auditing services for Business Customers
5.      Residential Solar PUC – as described in my blog article entitled “Google invests US$75 million in Residential Solar PUC - Aliens in future Energy Market Shakeup” to provide all the above services, minus transmission costs
6.      MPU (Mobile Power Units) – Diesel Generators, Solar Power or Wind Turbine Mobile sited in a vehicle that can travel to a location to provide power for a large events in remote locations

JPS Co installation of Digital Meters is not just a response to a shortage of spare parts and electromechanical meters, but a push towards a more efficient JPS Co in terms of a variety of Billing arrangements and services that they can offer with their new Smart metering facility. Just like Duke Energy.

Forseeably in the future, like a Telecom Provider or a Broadcaster, they can even provide Mobile Power to large events using a Mobile COW (Cell Site on Wheels) as in Telecoms or a MBU (Mobile Broadcast Unit) as in the case of Free-To-Air Broadcaster, such as Television Jamaica and CVM TV

Even the mention of the “four [4] broad types of meter installations” is really an indication of the four (4) possible states of the smartmeter Software settings of Digital Meter States, specifically:

1.      Residential Customer Smartmeter with Remote Access enabled
2.      Residential Customer Smartmeter with Remote Access disabled
3.      Business Customer Smartmeter with Remote Access enabled
4.      Business Customer Smartmeter with Remote Access disabled

This as the Digital Meters, like Telecom Providers Switch equiptment such as the BTS (Base Transceiver Station) and the RAC (Radio Access Cabinets) that house the RBS (Radio Base Station) that make up the Node B at the Cell sites or the MGW (Media Gateway) located in the RNC (Radio Network Cabinet) at the MSC (Mobile Switching Center) can be software enabled or disabled.

Hence JPS Co Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum Press Release The Jamaica Gleaner is really media obfuscation, folks. The Digital Meters are indeed ALL smartmeters, just that some of them are not software enabled, hence the reference to the “four [4] broad types of meter installations”.

There is even evidence, presented in a previous Press Release by JPS Co Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum in April 2010AD entitled “Security flaws in Some Smart meters”, published Sunday April 18, 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner that JPS Co DOES indeed intend to engage in Remote Billing, albeit via PLC (Power Line Carrier) a secure Communication standard to communicate over Power Lines.

It is still my assertion that this is not entirely true, as explained in my blog article entitled “Senator Phillip Paulwell and PowerLine Broadband - Ice Station Zebra”, as PLC would only be suitable over short ranges over the very noisy Transmission lines.

Most likely, they are using a Private Wireless Network, as evidenced by the Microwave Antenna Farm atop the JPS Co Main Corporate Building in Knutsford Boulevard and their NOC (Network Operation Center) which monitors their Power Network in much the same way a Telecom Provider has a NOC to monitor GSM (Global System Mobile), (Code Division Multiple Access) or 3G Wireless Broadband Network.

So with the installation of smartmeters, JPS Co, to offset this upgrade, will NOT be using PLC, which is susceptible to Transmission Line Noise but most likely will be using a Wireless Network of a Telecom Provider under contract as in the case of Duke Energy in the US of A as explained in my blog article entitled “AT&T overcharges for unlimited SMS again - Duke Energy's US$1 billion Investment in The Dead Zone”.

Most likely this contract, which has the six thousand (6000) smartmeters as a part of the test phase (JPS Co Guinea Pigs…cool!!), had been signed with Telecom Provider LIME and not Telecom Provider Digicel, as Telecom Provider LIME has a more reliable Wireless Network, being as most of their cell sites are connected via Fiber Optic and not mainly an IP RAN (Internet Protocol Radio Access Network) as in the case of Telecom Provider Digicel.

This in a Simple Twist of Fate (1994) as JPS Co provides Fiber Optic Telecoms support to Telecom Provider Digicel for their Tier III Cloud-centric Data Center located in Caymanas as noted in my blog article entitled Digicel Cloud Backup Service and future Cloud-Based Services - V.S Naipaul's A House for Mr Biswas”!
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