UPTICK IN ENERGY REDUCTION
Over the last five years, there has been an uptick in the adoption of energy-reduction measures such as the installation of inverter ACs, purchase of energy-saving and LED bulbs and energy-efficient appliances; as well as equipment retrofits, energy audits, and guided load shifting. JPS, through our Energy Solutions Unit, has partnered with our customers to assess their needs and provide tailored solutions and in their quest for cost control, improved efficiency and reliability, there is a further move to generate power themselves.
This trend, known as "self-generation", is primarily found among the business class of customers, though some households are also producing their own power. This is attributable to the rapidly declining costs of distributed energy resources (DERs). DERs is a category of solutions that is inclusive of distributed generation sources such as combined heat and power (CHP), solar, and wind, as well as energy storage (batteries).
By installing rooftop solar panels, building co-generation plants or purchasing storage units, customers are moving towards a reduction of their regular power consumption from the centralised grid. The most publicised cases have been companies such as Red Stripe, Jamaica Broilers, Grand Palladium, and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Whether for better reliability, more favourable economics, or environmental benefits, self-generation presents significant challenges for the JPS core business, and by extension, bill-paying customers. The most obvious risk and perhaps that which is considered to be the primary reason for JPS' call of caution in leaving the grid is the resulting adverse impact to electricity rates.
This would arise as JPS faces the additional challenge of managing and maintaining costly infrastructure to supply those customers remaining on the grid to include customers, who despite self-generating, still depend on the grid for their emergency or peak use (grid-tied).