Abercromby and St Vincent Streets

A T&TEC worker inspects the site where a utility pole fell on the Brian Lara Promenade between Abercromby and St Vincent Streets, Port of Spain. The incident cuased traffick on Independence Square North to be diverted while the repairs took place.

—Photo: CURTIS CHASE

The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) says customers can expect a steady supply of electricity in the coming weeks.

Responding to questions from Express Business, communications manager Annabelle Brasnell said: “We do not have any shortage of generation capacity to provide electricity to meet the current demand. All power producers have confirmed in writing that they have activated all action plans to provide the necessary capacity to the Commission. Due to the pandemic, T&TEC has also temporarily suspended all non-critical maintenance jobs which would require planned interruptions. However, from time to time we may have to schedule temporary interruptions for urgent repairs or maintenance that are necessary for the safe and reliable operation of the grid. Once possible, customers will be notified in advance.”

With regard to payments, she said customers who can, are still being asked to pay their bills.

“Even with our service centres being closed, customers have been demonstrating a keen interest in paying their bills, using all available platforms, which we think is very responsible and commendable,” she said.

As it stands, only seven per cent of T&TEC’s customers pay their bills online.

In the last week though, T&TEC has had a spike in interest in online payments and completion of payments online.

“We have increased our advertising on the availability of online payment. It should be noted, for persons who are concerned about the lack of a credit card for online transactions, bills can be paid through any bank’s online banking system and T&TEC’s website accepts VISA debit cards,” said Brasnell.

She said T&TEC is providing technical support for persons who want to access T&TECs online services, so that they can meet their commitments.

On March 19, T&TEC announced it has increased the qualifying limit for disconnections due to non-payment, resulting in the deferral of payments of 87 per cent of residential customers due for disconnection.

She observed that from early March, T&TEC adjusted its operations in keeping with its documented policy for treating with communicable diseases and following all protocols outlined by the Ministry of Health for treating with Covid-19, specifically.

“Arising from the State’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ order, effective March 28, all service centres were closed and emergency/critical operations staff are on active duty or on standby,” she said.

T&TEC is responsible for the twin-island nation’s electrical transmission and distribution network, with generation being done by Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

T&T’s three IPPs are PowerGen, Point Lisas-based Trinity Power Ltd and Trinidad Generation Unlimited, which is based in La Brea:

• Powergen operates three major power generation plants at Point Lisas and Penal, with the facility on Wrightson Road in Port of Spain being decommissioned some years ago. The Point Lisas and Penal plants have nameplate capacities of 838 megawatts and 236 megawatts respectively.

• Trinity Power Ltd (TPL) operates six General Electric (GE) simple cycle gas turbines rated for a combined output of 225 MW at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. The plant is also equipped with a 1.5 MW black start diesel generator.

Trinity Power is owned by US-based Carib Power Management LLC, which is a small private independent power an infrastructure company.

• TGU plant has a contracted capacity of 720 megawatts and consists of six GE gas turbines rated for a combined output of 450 megawatts. Waste heat from the exhaust of these gas turbines is utilised by six Heat Recovery Steam Generators to produce steam. The steam produced by this waste heat is used to power two (2) steam turbines. These produce an additional 270 megawatts of power without the use of any additional natural gas.

One Hundred per cent of TGU’s shares are now held in the National Investment Fund portfolio.

a. T&TEC is still conducting business online, where customers can make requests for connections, sign up to receive bills by email, make billing inquiries and pay bills. Customers still have the option to pay bills at commercial banks (online banking or at the counter) and SurePay (Massy Stores) and Bill Express (Grace Kennedy/ Western Union) outlets.

b. Its customer service representatives are providing telephone and email support for online services from home.

c. It has suspended the processing of non-critical transactions such as account transfers, pole relocations and overhead line construction. Emergency cases can still be reported using our standard hotlines: 800-BULB (2852) and 800-TTEC (8832)

d. Its technical staff are all rostered for full service, this includes the executive management team. All field workers, engineers, supervisors and technicians remain on the job, providing emergency services in all areas. In order to minimise exposure for both customers and employees, its field workers have been instructed not to directly interact with customers, to maintain the recommended six feet social distance and to communicate by phone.

e. Weekly remote meetings are held with the executive, and the board of commissioners as necessary, to review and adjust action plans.

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