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Head office of the Jamaica Public Service Company in New Kingston.

JPS looks to drive electric transport sector

Head office of the Jamaica Public Service Company in New Kingston.

Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) says it has implemented a project, in partnership with the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB), to make electric transportation more readily available to Jamaicans.

In its recently-released annual report, the light and power company said it is “providing the infrastructure, electric vehicle charging stations, as well as growth and training opportunities for selected people who will apply these newfound skills to a new industry . What we need now are more electric vehicles.”

JPS, the sole distributor of electricity in Jamaica, has also partnered with two service station operators – multinational company Total and local company Boot – to install the island’s first set of Electric Vehicle Charging (EVC) stations across the country.

JPS is an integrated electric utility company that generates, transmits and distributes electricity, and purchases power from a number of Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

Marubeni Corporation of Japan and Korea East-West Power (EWP) jointly own majority shares (80 per cent) in JPS, while the Government of Jamaica and a small group of minority shareholders own the remaining shares.

In addition to EVCs, the company is also expending capital on upgrading its energy infrastructure.

In the annual report which covers the financial year ended December 31, 2020, JPS said that its investment in associated company, South Jamaica Power Company Limited, generated a return of US$8.2 million, which, along with the other factors, contributed to the overall net profit after tax of US$31.1 million earned for the year.

This represents a return on equity of approximately 6.1 per cent, as a percentage of US$506.8 million in total equity compared to 9.5 per cent for the previous year.

The company also began construction of its  first Combined Heat and Power plant at a property belonging to  CB Group.

The plant being constructed is housed at “The Nest”, CB Group’s new agro complex in Hill Run, St Catherine. The combined heat and power generation plant is expected to reduce carbon emissions by up to 30 per cent by using LNG instead of heavy fuel oils.  The 10MW power plant will supply energy to the national grid as well as to CB Group for their operations.

JPS noted that consumer spending plummeted in 2020, impacting the economy in general, and the local energy sector in particular. With the population facing restricted movement, a rise in residential energy consumption patterns emerged, the company said.

The reduced demand within the commercial and industrial sectors, particularly the hard hit hospitality sector, led to deficits in core revenues too great for residential usage to compensate, said the light and power company.

These losses were somewhat mitigated by JPS’ diversification initiatives into the provision of operation and maintenance services for entities within the energy industry which resulted in operating revenues totaling US$888.7 million, which represented a marginal increase against the previous year.

JPS said that greater reliance on more efficient generation plants (South Jamaica Power Company Limited and NFE South Power Holdings Limited) and reduced fuel costs resulted in the annual cost of sales totaling US$525.1 million, down nine per cent against the previous year.

However, operating expenses (including impairment losses on receivables) rose to US$251.8 million, an increase of US$29.2 million compared to year-earlier levels.

Net finance costs were US$80.3 million against the US$55.6 million of the prior year as a direct result of the additional interest on lease arrangements from Power Purchase Agreements, which became fully operational during the year.

Net profit after taxes was US$22.39  million, up from US 19.8 million at year end 2019.

The group’s total assets was US$1,800 million, representing a slight decline when contrasted against the prior year’s total of US$1,807 million (restated).

JPS was able to generate US$195.0 million (2019 – US$ 150.8 million) of net cash from operating activities and reduced its cash used in investing activities to $74.9 million (2019 –US$109.8 million).

Cash used in financing activities increased to US$100.8 million (2019 –Net US$33.3 million), as the Group focused on servicing its existing debt obligations.

These initiatives have resulted in an overall increase in cash and cash equivalents to US$54.4 million against US$35.0 million in 2019.

-Caribbean Business Report.