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Use JPS shares to acquire grid

— Wildman urges gov't

Paul Henry

Thursday, September 13, 2012    

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ATTORNEY-AT-LAW Hugh Wildman on Tuesday urged the Government to use its 19 per cent share in the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) to acquire the electricity grid from the light and power company in an effort to accommodate energy providers who would want to enter the market.

Wildman, the attorney for the group of persons who had the Supreme Court struck down the exclusivity aspect of the JPS's 20-year all-island licence, said that the grid should be in State control in order for Jamaica to benefit from affordable energy.

"Persons are expressing an interest in providing energy. What the Government needs to do now is use its 19 per cent share to acquire the grid from the JPS to allow other players to come on board," said Wildman, who was speaking at the Kiwanis weekly luncheon at the Wyndham Hotel in New Kingston.

Wildman said that there are new players out there with better technology that would benefit consumers.

"Without cheaper energy Jamaica is going nowhere but down. Jamaica deserves better," Wildman said.

The way was made clear for other players to enter the energy market when Justice Bryan Sykes on July 30 struck down the exclusivity aspect of JPS's licence, issued by the energy minister in 2001. At the same time though, Sykes said that the all-island aspect of the licence was valid.

JPS has since appealed the ruling. So too have Dennis Meadows, Betty Ann Blaine and Cyrus Rousseau, the group of people who have brought the action against the JPS.

The claimants are asking the Court of Appeal to declare the licence invalid. The claimants are set to argue that only one licence was issued to the JPS and that it cannot be divided to make one part valid and another part invalid, as was done by the Supreme Court. The claimants are contending that the Electric Lighting Act prevents an entity from providing electricity across the entire island.

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