Business

Electricity rates up 18 per cent

Electricity rates up 18%

Wednesday, September 19, 2012    

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ELECTRICITY bills will jump 18 per cent for the average residential customer this month, returning them to their usual levels. After customers benefitted from a one-off, US$3.8-million ($340 million) fuel rebate from Petrojam, a new heat rate target and lower oil prices last month, the fuel rate has returned to levels seen up to July this year.

“Unfortunately, the relief for our customers was temporary, as an increase in the cost of oil has pushed bills back up this month,” said Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) in a statement issued yesterday.

The fuel and IPP charge on September bills is $21.881 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), compared to the charge of $16.748 last month, representing a 31 per cent increase in the rate that covers more than half customers’ bills.

Consequently, average residential customers, who consistently use 200 kWh of electricity each month, will see their bills rise from $5,800 in August to $6,830 this month.

“This month’s fuel & IPP charge is consistent with the charges applied to bills between January and July, when this line item on bills ranged from approximately $20 per kWh to a high of just over $24 per kWh,” said JPS. Indeed, bills won’t be as high as those in May, when the fuel rate was 10 per cent higher than it is now.

The fuel component of bills dropped in August as a result of the Office of Utilities Regulation setting new heat rate targets, which required the electric company to improve how efficiently it converted fuel to electricity. Failing that, JPS would have to absorb more of the cost of the fuel lost through heat.

The one-off Petrojam rebate was paid in August because the state refinery overcharged independent power supplier Jamaica Private Power Company (JPPC) for purchased fuel.

What’s more, oil prices climbed over the last month, which resulted in higher fuel costs incurred by IPPs and JPS alike.

JPS urged customers to continue their conservation efforts, in order to minimise the impact of rising oil prices on their bills.

At this month’s rate, the cost of electricity to customers is approximately 36 US cents per kWh.

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