Why employees in Ja's largest corporations keep the nation's energy bill high

By Dean Johnson

Friday, May 10, 2013

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There is so much talk and slow action about implementing alternative energy sources these days. Without a doubt, Jamaica will benefit from any decrease in cost for energy, but has anybody stopped to think of what will happen if we do not formulate firm strategies to manage consumption in all spheres of our daily life?

As it exists now, our main supplier of electricity is unable to generate the amount of power to meet its demands, and whether our dreams of rates US 14 cents per kwh becomes a reality or not, we must think outside of the box in an effort to control consumption.

For the most part, energy saving activities are centred around the use of household appliances, lighting, and air condition units, which consume the most electricity. However, there is not as much enthusiasm expressed in the public domain as to how companies should effectively manage their power consumption.

It is believed that by now, organisations would have been proactive with fully developed programmes in engaging their team members in the importance of keeping their operational costs down by carefully managing the use of electricity.

However, as these organisations become more dependent on information technology to drive efficiencies in their operations, there is usually a correlative increase in power consumption. In many cases, this increase could actually be greatly curtailed, but on the other hand, IT mangers who orchestrate equipment usage are never usually concerned with cost containment.

Desktop and laptop computers usually account for the majority of technology equipment used in most companies, and this is where the haemorrhaging of electricity takes place, simply because these units are left on for long periods when not in use.

Individuals in most organisations cannot be relied upon to shut off their computers when not in use for long periods, particularly at the end of the day and Friday evenings.

The continuous waste of power inhibits the Jamaica Public Service Company to meet its demands for power in areas of the island which have never been privileged to have this modern convenience many of us take for granted.

Organisations that operate more than 50 or more computers are at serious risk of inflated JPS bills because of this type of oblivious behaviour. The associated costs of operation really add up when tabulated on a per annum basis.

Let us do some simple mathematics:

If your PC is on for left idle for 16 hours each week day after the usual eight hour work day and on weekends for a full 48 hours :

The total wasted hours per week is (16 x5) weekday + 48 weekend= 128 hours

Per Year this adds up to 128 x 52 (weeks) = 6656 hours

Each computer uses 128W = (6656 x 128)/1000 = 822kwh

Cost for Electricity Per KW/h in Jamaica is US$0.44

Total Cost for wasted electricity per computer per year is 882 X $0.44 = US$375

The kilowatt hours used in the computation does not include hours that computers may be idle during the work day.

This figure may not seem like a whole lot but consider those large corporations in Jamaica that have 500 to 1000 + employees. If 200 computers were to be left running for those hours per annum then that corporation will be looking at a whopping J$7,425,000 ($US375 x 200 x ROE J$99 = US$1) in payments to JPS.

These are not just costs that are impacting the private sector. This dilemma is every taxpayer across the nation's problem. Our government employs more people than any private sector organisation and the waste in electricity throughout the various ministries is staggering.

The government owns approximately 80,000 computers. If just 20,000 are to be left on for 128 hours then the cost to taxpayers is over J$742.5 million. The current public sector bill for electricity is over J$1.2 billion per month which will grow as the government strives to modernise its operations.

Many companies have introduced energy conservation awareness programmes which are created to help their employees to better understand the impact of their action on the companies' bottom line; however the benefits are usually short lived. The senior management in these large organisations must look at other ways they can manage these processes with a view to ensuring a more favourable outcome.

The implementation of software applications which do not require human intervention, which will shut down these computers when not in use is in fact available and organisations at risk should look at the available options coupled with its awareness programmes.

While cheaper sources of energy are still a far ways off, the issue of power generation by the JPS will always be a problem that will never go away if conservation is not tackled in a very serious way.

Dean Johnson is a specialist in information technology, sales and marketing. You can email him at energybugja@gmail.com.




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