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Starting today, if you go into a T&TEC service centre to pay your electricity bill, you will be able to collect your four free LED bulbs, as promised to the population by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in the last budget.

The long-awaited announcement on the distribution of the bulbs came yesterday from Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales and the chairman of T&TEC, Keith Sirju.

Both were speaking at a virtual press conference held.

Gonzales said the distribution is the Government’s first step in its multi-pronged and multi-tiered strategy for implementation of energy conservation and energy efficiency practices.

“The bulbs, which were supplied by Nova Lighting Trinidad and manufactured by Emitter Energy Inc, cost taxpayers a total of $8.8 million and their distribution will be facilitated by T&TEC,” Gonzales said.

He described the bulbs as an opening salvo, saying they are proof the Government is serious in pursuing this route to national development.

You can collect your bulbs when you pay your electricity bill at a T&TEC service centre. You must provide proof of identification to collect. If you do not pay your bills in person and utilise any of the other bill payment options, you can pay your bill as usual and visit the T&TEC website to book an appointment to collect your bulbs.

Gonzales said the Ministry is also undertaking an audit of energy use at Government buildings.

He said a pilot project was already done at Tower C of the International Waterfront Centre, which revealed that by just turning off lights in the building at night, the State can save $350,000 a year.

“If fully embraced by the national community, as it must be, our Energy Conservation and Efficiency Plan will lead to $1.2 billion in energy cost savings over the next five years and $2.72 billion by 2030.”

Gonzales said cutting down in energy use will also have a positive impact on this country’s carbon emissions, which are among the highest in the world, with a reduction of about six million tonnes of emissions over the next five years. He said by 2030, those emissions would be reduced by 18 million tonnes.

“We are fully aware that securing these benefits requires a turn-around in the ways in which we use electricity in Trinidad and Tobago. The truth is that we, the consumers, do not bear the full cost of the electricity that keeps our lights on and our appliances running,” he said.

Gonzales said the average account holder enjoys an 80 per cent subsidy on their bills because T&TEC pays less for natural gas and the full production cost is not passed on to customers.

“This, unfortunately, has led to a very cavalier and ‘entitled’ approach to our electricity usage, and that is something that we must change if we are to reap the benefits that I mentioned earlier,” he said.

The Minister said the Government is also implementing a number of construction projects to install solar generators across the country.

“These include the construction of a 1.4-megawatt alternating current (MWac) Solar Generator at the Piarco International Airport, the construction of a Utility-Scale Solar Project that consists of two Solar Photo Voltaic Plants: one at Brechin Castle and the other at Trincity, the construction of a Solar Photovoltaic project at the Queen’s Park Savannah, consisting of a 700 kilowatts peak (kWp) solar photovoltaic carport, two 50 kilowatts (kW) Level 3 Chargers, and three LED under-carport lighting systems.” He said the construction of the solar photovoltaic plants will begin in the latter half of 2021 and the contracts to build them were awarded in February to the consortium of BP, Shell and LightSource BP.

Gonzales congratulated T&TEC on their new project, an Energy Management Application.

T&TEC chairman, Keith Sirju said the application will allow registered account holders to track their energy consumption and much more. Those account holders who have already signed up for the Commission’s e-bills will be able to access the application by logging onto T&TEC’s website. New users can register their accounts online to access the application.

“Account holders will be able to, at their convenience, set goals for usage or bill total, monitor their usage habits and use a calculator to estimate the electricity consumed by their specific appliances. It also provides an animated representation of the level of carbon emissions a customer generates, to better inform you about greenhouse gases and how these relate to items used in everyday life,” Sirju said.

Sirju said customers can save approximately $25 a billing cycle by replacing four 60 watt incandescent bulbs with LEDs. He said LED bulbs also have a much longer life span- 15,000 hours- compared to the 1,000 hour-life spans of an incandescent bulb.

Sirju said LED bulbs also reduce carbon emissions by as much as 17 per cent.