My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: JPS Co's Prepaid Power now in Jamaica - How @myJPSonline PAYG means a Digital Meter with smartphone App for 5 KWh Advances


Monday, April 20, 2015

JPS Co's Prepaid Power now in Jamaica - How @myJPSonline PAYG means a Digital Meter with smartphone App for 5 KWh Advances

Looks like JPS Co has finally stepped into the 21st century as it relates to customer choices when it comes to electricity. It will allow customer to better manage their Electricity usage and keep themselves out of trouble as it relates to oweing JPS Co or their Landlord.

JPS Co is introducing the PAYG (Pay as You Go Service) to some two thousand (2000) customers in parts of Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine in April 2015 as reported in the article “Prepaid Electricity Is Here ­ JPS Introduces option For Consumers Who Want To Better Manage Their Energy Usage”, Published Sunday April 19, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.

So says JPS Co on their JPS Co Twitter feed as shown below.

JPS Co is now accepting application for their PAYG Prepaid Power Program, effectively making you a Guinea-pig to test out the new system.

This is a test pilot to test the system and see how well it works as well as to determine if any problems exist before an islandwide rollout. When that happens, Jamaicans will be able to choose between having Prepaid or PAYG or Postpaid Power, when you pay after you've used the Power.

JPS Co introduces Prepaid Power to Jamaica - Global Trend that's pushing the introduction of Digital Meters

Prepaid Power first made its debut in the UK. Landlords love it and it has spread like wildfire to the following territories:

1.      Australia
2.      Brazil
3.      Caribbean
4.      Europe
5.      India
6.      Indonesia
7.      Mexico
8.      South Africa
9.      United States

The Prepaid Power system needs accurate Digital Meters to determine exactly how much Power is being used by the customers as had been predicted in my Geezam article entitled “JPS Co Analog Meter upgrade heralds Remote Billing Revolution”. So expect to see JPS Co increase their deployment of Prepaid Power Meters through the rest of 2015.

In these more developed countries, person can check their Prepaid Power Credit Balance and top up their Prepaid Power Balance Account via their smartphones, Tablets and internet connected Laptops and computers.

Customers effectively have more payment options than just Credit Cards, as they may possible by able to pay using Mobile Money services, such as Apple Pay as explained in my blog article entitled “Apple Pay accepted by @JetBlue Airlines - How to use Bitcoins on Apple Pay as Apple Watch coming in April 2015

Some quick Facts on the spread of Prepaid Power worldwide:

1.      5.8 million Prepaid Power meters in use in Great Britain in 207
2.      54% of South Africa's 7.3 million use Prepaid Power, the highest deployment in the world according to ABS Energy Research
3.      In the US of A, it’s actively being used in Texas and Arizona
4.      Australian are particularly fond of Prepaid Power as well

So what about the Caribbean? The same is true, especially if you’re a Landlord.

JPS Co introduces Prepaid Power to Jamaica - PAYG already popular in the Caribbean as Landlords can collect

JPS Co has already conducted a test pilot in 2014 with customers. It was a success, with customers achieving some 35% in savings due to the fact that they could see how much Power they were saving.

This indicates that persons interested in Prepaid Power will have to get a Digital Meter installed as described in my blog article entitled “JPS Co New Digital Meters are all Smart Meters - Winsome Callum's A Simple Twist of Fate”.

It has already been introduced in other countries in the Caribbean by other PUC (Power Utility Companies), such as:

1.      Antigua
2.      Dominica
3.      Guyana

40% of Dominica Electricity Services are using Prepaid Power since November 2014 an indication that it’s very popular. This may be, possibly because an awful lot of folks in Dominica live in rented accommodations and Landlord like Prepaid Power, as their tenants cannot run off and not pay for their electricity usage.

To be fair, the JPS Co had promised this service would have been launched in December 2014 as stated in my blog article entitled “JPS Co says Prepaid Power by December 2014 – How SolarMill Alternative Energy Solution will be a part of Prepaid Power”.

It fact, it should have come on stream back in July 2013 as not only had I written about the idea of Prepaid Power in my blog article entitled “Prepaid Power coming in July 2013 - A Chip, a Pebble a Rock and a Block would make Prepaid Power The Kings of Summer” but I’d actually had actually been interviewed on Prepaid Power on CVM TV on Monday May 20th 2013 as per the video below.

So how does JPS Co Prepaid Credit Work?

How JPS Co Prepaid Power Works - Weekends are not a problem as they’ll advance you 5 KWh

According to the article in the Jamaica Gleaner, it’s basically as I’d predicted; very similar to topping up with Prepaid Credit on your Mobile smartphone or regular feature phone as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “The Prepaid Cycle and How Prepaid Credit gives your SIM Card access to the Prepaid Network”.

For those involved in the test-pilot, it’s free for those with 220 V systems, with those having 110 V systems having to pay for the service, possible though monthly installments. 

The customer then purchases their Prepaid Power Credit (That's what I'm calling it!) from any of the thirty five (35) Bill Express locations islandwide, JPS Co Parish Offices. They get a printed Voucher with a unique Voucher number or PIN (Personal Identification Number), not unlike the printed Voucher credit that they can get from Telecom Provider LIME or Digicel.

Once they're home, they can add it via a CIU (Customer Interface Unit), a keypad like interface resembling a control panel for electronics Security System which JPS Co Technicians have to install at your home in order to enable the service. As soon as it's added, you get a fixed block of Power that lasts for a set period of time.

JPS Co Prepaid Power Concerns - Needs to have Mobile Top Up and Mobile Money Options

Many people had a concern that when your Prepaid Power Credit expired on a weekend, you'd be out of Power until Monday when you could go to a Bill Express locations islandwide or JPS Co Parish Offices.

This is still a concern, as the JPS Co PAYG System doesn’t allow you to top up your credit via your Smartphone or even via an smartphone App, be it on Google Play Store, Google Chome Store or the Apple iTunes Store.

Instead, unlike our local Telecom Provider, JPS Co alerts you when your Prepaid Power Credit balance has dropped down to 5 kWh via the keypad panel and advises them to add more Prepaid Power credit.

The customer can then contact JPS Co's Customer Care Center to get assistance with adding the Prepaid Power Credit, which will for now involve advancing the customer a 5kWh block of Prepaid Power Credit until the weekend or holiday is over, at which time they can go to any of the thirty five (35) Bill Express Locations or JPS Co Parish Offices and top up their Account.

This is still a bit of an inconvenience as a Mobile App would help immensely. Even better would be an option to use Mobile Money platforms such as CONEC Mobile Wallet, the JCCUL (Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League) and Mozido Jamaica's Mobile Money platform that’s' already available at most Paymaster locations islandwide as noted in my blog article entitled “JCUES now CONEC Mobile Wallet - Why CONEC Mobile Wallet still inconvenient despite Paymaster and Remittances in the JCCUL-Mozido Jamaica mix”.

Interestingly, unlike Prepaid Voucher Credit used in the Telecoms world, JPS Co claims that their Prepaid Power Credit has no expiry date and cannot be stolen.

This might not be true, as just like any Prepaid Voucher Credit, if the retailer at the POS (Point of Terminal) location where you purchase the Prepaid Credit decided to copy and enter it into their meter at home by sending that unique PIN to their relative, they can effectively steal your Prepaid Power Credit.

Still, it’s a test pilot being conducted in April 2015. Expect a full rollout by September 2015, just in time for Christmas 2015, when the Power usage begins to rise along with spirits during the festive season.

Here’s the link:
JPS Co Twitter feed: @myJPSonline

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