JPS cuts 30 jobs

JPS cuts 30 jobs

Light and power company retiring B6 unit at Hunt's Bay

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

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ABOUT 30 Jamaica Public Service (JPS) employees will be sent home this week as the light and power company shuts down its B6 Generating Unit at Hunt's Bay in St Andrew.

The unit has been in operation for more than 40 years.

The staff whose positions are being made redundant represent about 60 per cent of those employed at the Hunt's Bay plant.

The unit will be retired on December 31, the JPS has confirmed. The company told the Jamaica Observer that this is in keeping with the mandate from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) regarding the retirement of older units.

Those whose jobs are being made redundant have been prepared in advance, while some are being retained to support the two remaining units at Hunt's Bay. Others are to be deployed to other power stations, the JPS advised.

“We have also had consultations on this development with all union groups, in keeping with the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act,” the JPS said.

Commenting on the development, general secretary of the Union of Clerical, Administrative, and Supervisory Employees (UCASE) John Levy said the Government should examine the adverse impact on highly skilled technical personnel of the shift from heavy fuel oil to liquefied natural gas (LNG) across the energy sector.

“Fewer youngsters are going to want to go into these technical fields [as] the demand for their skill set is shrinking,” Levy said.

He noted that last year 40 UCASE-represented workers lost their jobs at the Old Harbour power plant with the decommissioning of two systems at that facility.

The B6 Generating Unit is a 68.5-megawatt (MW) plant, considered to be the backbone of the Hunt's Bay power station. It provides critical voltage stabilisation to the grid in the Corporate Area. In January this year the utility company indicated that it planned to implement two projects to improve power reliability in the capital city.

JPS also retired two aged steam units (125-MW capacity) at Old Harbour in 2019 and another this year, accounting for 68.5 MWs. Its gas turbine units at Hunt's Bay, with 54-MW capacity, are also to be retired at the end of 2023, as well as two diesel units at Rockfort (40 MW). Additionally, four gas turbine units (73.5 MW) at Bogue, St James, are to be decommissioned at the end of 2023.

These form part of a plan for the phased retirement of aged and inefficient assets in order to deliver more reliable, lower-cost energy to customers, according to the JPS's 2019-2024 business plan.

On the weekend, Opposition spokesman on energy Phillip Paulwell lamented the high cost of energy, pointing to inefficiencies in power generation and distribution to the national grid.

The JPS said that over the past five years it invested more than US$143 million in its generation plants, including expansion, conversion and routine upgrades. It said that between 2014 and 2018 the company invested US$185 million in transmission and distribution across the network, resulting in a 30 per cent improvement in outage duration and a 37 per cent cut in the frequency of these outages.

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