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Private sector owes T&TEC $72m
In the event of a nationwide blackout the T&T Electricity Commission’s (T&TEC) Trinidad Generation Unlimited (TGU) power plant in La Brea can only supply electricity to 75 per cent of the country. Making the statement was T&TEC’s general manager Kelvin Ramsook, who spoke at yesterday’s Public Accounts Committee meeting in Parliament, chaired by Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert. Among those representing T&TEC were its chairman Sushilla Ramkissoon-Mark, deputy chairman Aaron Henry and several managers.
Ramsook said the utility company was working to boost the full capacity of the TGU plant, which is expected to be completed later this year. “The total capacity of the entire T&T right now is 1,348 megawatts. TGU is 720 megawatts so at this point in time, to get the full capacity on the grid we are looking at the middle of 2014,” he added. Imbert asked whether, if there were a “big failure” in the supply of electricity in north Trinidad “towards the end of this year,” T&TEC would be able to provide electricity.
Ramsook replied: “That is correct.” On the issue of how much was owed to T&TEC by the private sector, Ramsook said the outstanding balance was $72 million. State companies in arrears included Udecott and the National Security Ministry. The issue of compensation was also brought to the fore by Sport Minister Anil Roberts, who questioned T&TEC’s “fairness” when honouring claims.
Ramsook said close to $1 million was paid in claims last year and added that claims were settled within 30 days but the more complicated ones took longer. Roberts appeared astounded, asking: “In the whole of T&T you paid compensation claims of $1 million? “The average cost of a good fridge is $25,000, a TV is $15,000.
“I think clearly that shows that something is wrong with the system and I put it to you that the system of managing and investigating and charging yourself does not work and does not protect the customer,” he added. On its communication strategies, the committee knocked T&TEC for failing to provide proper details of its strategies, including an advertising campaign. Imbert, who agreed that such details were lacking, said on the last occasions the committee had also had complaints of that nature.
“The permanent secretary is telling us with respect to a particular programme they have begun a process of public education... well, I am a member of the public and I am not aware of that. “What we really need is a better answer. We need details on exactly what T&TEC has been communicating with the wider public... also with respect to problems, complaints and claims,” Imbert added. The committee then asked for detailed information on communications projects and programmes.
T&TEC is expected to reappear before the committee on March 11.