My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How JPS Co App for Digital smartmeter means paying Electricity Bill via Mobile Money

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How JPS Co App for Digital smartmeter means paying Electricity Bill via Mobile Money

“This meter is actually a full-fledged computer with a very powerful micro processor having communication capabilities and memory. It is more advanced than computers were probably five years ago”

Senior Vice-President of Energy Delivery at JPS Co, Gary Barrow explaining the Smart Meter rollout in 2016

JPS Co is finally making it super easy to track how much power your digital smartmeter is using as well as make it easier to pay.

This as they've announced plans to roll out a new App come September 2016 as reported in the article “JPS to roll out mobile application by September”, published February 07, 2016, The Jamaica Observer.

JPS Co revealed this during a press briefing at the company’s headquarters in New Kingston on Friday February 5th 2016. They also revealed that they're planning to install more smart meters as a part of the launch of their mobile application after successfully testing the concept in the upscale Smartphone totin' community of Jacks Hill.

Now it seems, JPS Co plans to make us guinea pigs as well!

This developement is closely paired with the continued rollout of their digital smartmeters that started way back in 2011 as noted my blog article entitled “JPS Co New Digital Meters are all Smart Meters - Winsome Callum's A Simple Twist of Fate”. 

They'd recently mentioned their Digital smartmeter rollout in December 2016, which will give customers the option to switch to their PAYG (Pay as You Go) Prepaid Meter system as explained in my blog article entitled “JPS Co's Prepaid Meters coming in 2016 - Why Prepaid Meters adoption will explode in Jamaica”.
 
So what exactly is JPS Co's plan for Digital Smartmeter rollout islandwide?

JPS Co Digital smartmeter rollout – Pay Electricity Bill via Mobile Money on your smartphone

JPS Co plans are pretty straightforward:

1.      US$5 million to install more smartmeters
2.      25,000 smartmeters to be installed in 2016
3.      90,000 smartmeters already installed across the island

In fact, over the next five (5) years, JPS Co plans to spend US$40 million to build out their smartgrid in a bid to reduce some US$18 million in losses from electricity thefts reported in 2015.

So by September 2016, with this new App, which I'd predicted in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “JPS C re-launches EBILL Service with Gleaner Online as Mobile Money App a possibility” expect the following capabilities at in your smartphone:

1.      Bill enquiries
2.      Bill payments
3.      Demand and consumption patterns
4.      Energy cost
5.      Estimate of time restoration
6.      General advisories
7.      Instant notification of outages
8.      Real-time monitoring of Energy conservations
9.      Remote control for connections and disconnections

In fact, this could herald the coming of Mobile Money via Paymaster to help JPS Co customers to pay their bills directly from their smartphones as predicted in my blog article entitled “Why CONEC Mobile Money to pay JPS Co EBILL before Digicel Paymaster Mobile Money”.

But why smartphones? Why does JPS Co not build their own Telecom Network?

JPS Co and smartphone Adoption - 85% globally will own a smartphone by 2030

It seems that JPS Co is betting on the future of smartphones and alternative Energy sources.
At the press briefing at the company’s headquarters in New Kingston on Friday February 5th 2016, Senior Vice-President of Energy Delivery at JPS Co, Gary Barrow revealed some interesting stats:

1.      85% of the world’s population will own a smartphone by 2030
2.      6.1 billion people worldwide will have smartphones by 2020

This explosion will mostly take place in developing countries according to research done by Ericsson as noted in the article “The number of smartphone users in the world is expected to reach a giant 6.1 billion by 2020”, published June 3, 2015 By Andy Boxall, Digitaltrends

This will be fuelled by the rapidly growing populations like Africa and India as pointed out in my blog article entitled “United Nations Population Division says 11.2 billion people by 2100 - Why Africa and India Population exploding as Insect Meat is coming”. 

It also heralds the coming of IoT, as these smartphones will allow customers to control other things in their home as pointed out by Gary Barrow, quote: “So your refrigerators, air conditioners, among other electronics will actually be connected to the Internet through your Wi-Fi mechanism. So conceivably, in a very short time you will have an application on your phone and you will be able to control your home through your smartphone”.

So what’s JPS Co doing to improve power capacity and reduce outages?

JPS Co going LNG with New Fortress Energy - Strong tower against Alternative Energy

2015 has already seen the JPS Co launch the Bogue Conversion Project in October 2015 that herald (finally!) the push towards LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) as reported in the article “JPS Launches $2.5 Billion Bogue Gas Conversion Project”, published October 14, 2015 By Marlon Tingling, The Jamaica Information Service.

The much touted improvements in supply and cost of electricity are coming slowly with agreements between American company New Fortress Energy and JPS Co being signed to supply the LNG as noted in “JPS, New Fortress Pursuing Separate Parts Of LNG Project”, published January 24, 2016 by Steven Jackson, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Already, there has been a reduction in the cost of electricity, thank mainly to the dropping price of Oil on the global market now settling below US$30 per barrel as noted in “Oil Speculators Shrug Off Huge Stockpiles to Bet on Price Climb”, published February 14, 2016 by Mark Shenk, Bloomberg.

Electricity rates are currently among the lowest in more than five years. JPS Co has fallen in line, reducing their electricity rates to the point of projecting a loss of JA$400 million per annum reduction in revenue.

Still, they'll be able to bill customer more accurately once these Digital Meters are installed, giving customers the option to switch to their PAYG (Pay as You Go) Prepaid Meter system as explained in my blog article entitled “JPS Co's Prepaid Meters coming in 2016 - Why Prepaid Meters adoption will explode in Jamaica”. 

This a they're prepared to compete with Alternative Energy, as more and more companies like Wisynco are rolling out massive Solar installation to reduce the cost of electricity as noted in my blog article entitled “Wisynco Group 1 MW Solar Power Plant - British partnership with Padero Solar UK for conquest of Africa and India”.

JPS Co is clearly ready to embrace a Jamaica going Alternative Energy especially now that Net Billing has resumed as reported in the article “Net Billing Programme to Resume”, published January 28, 2016 By Chris Patterson, The Jamaica Information Service.

Net billing had been suspended by JPS Co on Friday May 1st 2015 as pointed out in my blog article entitled “JA$4.2 Million Meadowbrook High Solar System - Why JPS Co's Net Billing suspension killing Jamaican Alternative Energy Sector”.

Throw into that high Schools coming off the grid with the help of the PCJ (Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica) as noted in my blog article entitled “15 Schools and 3 GOJ Agencies Go Solar - How PCJ Solar Project saves GOJ Electricity Bills” and we can see why JPS Co is willing to make the sacrifice to hold on to customers.

Competition in the Distribution of Electricity - Jesus's Says competition will redeem JPS Co sinners

The upside of all of this is that the smartmeters coupled with improvements in power capacity have reduced the frequency of power outages by 30.3%, with an 11% decline in the average duration of outages.

Competition is still missing and is needed in Jamaica as pointed out by head of cooperation at the EU (European Union) Delegation in Jamaica, Jesus Baguena as noted in the article “‘Cut JPS monopoly’”, published January 28, 2016 by  Alpheus Saunders, The Jamaica Observer.


This is still not possible as JPS Co is the sole Distributor of Electricity directly to customers. But with competitive pressure causing them to lower their prices, expect competition in the distribution side of the Energy Sector.
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