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Jamaica Public service says new scientific methods help keep power lines clear

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Jamaica: The Jamaica Public service (JPS) says it has introduced new scientific methods, proving useful in keeping vegetation off the company’s power lines. 

This latest move is part of a series of initiatives, which resulted in the frequency of outages being reduced by 30 percent last year, the company said. 

It further reported that data compiled over the past five years has shown that vegetation coming into contact with power lines is one of the leading causes of unscheduled outages. 

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“Like other countries with tropical climates, Jamaica has lush and fast-growing vegetation, which often poses a significant challenge along with the transmission and distribution network. 

“The company, therefore, commenced a pilot project in 2020, which included the use of Geographic Information Systems and drone technology to track and gather data, as well as the application of environmentally-safe herbicides and other measures to control interference from plant life,” JPS said in a release.

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One of the notable successes of the project is the line section from Danks to Colonel’s Ridge in Clarendon, which supplies 11,000 customers. The line runs across a steep, heavily vegetated area with fast-growing bamboo that can shoot up to 12 inches per day. 

Focus on this stretch resulted in a 60 percent reduction in the frequency and duration of outages experienced by customers in that vicinity, said JPS. The lines also remained free of vegetation for over nine months before requiring follow-up.

Plans are in place for the continued targeting of the most vulnerable line sections across the island, the company advised. 

Other parishes targeted for the ongoing pilot include St Andrew, St Thomas, Manchester, St Ann, St James, and Westmoreland.

JPS Senior Vice President of Energy Delivery, Blaine Jarrett, in commenting on the development, noted that JPS would continue to apply advanced methods to optimize the quality of service being delivered to customers.

“We have come a long way,” he observed, “And we have further to go. Our customers can depend on us to continually innovate and adopt the best methods available to serve them. 2021 will be a year in which we will extend ourselves even further to create the results that both our customers and the JPS team want to see.”

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