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T&TEC technicians fix wire on a pole along the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway in Arouca recently.

Sascha Wilson

The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) is being sued by a company that paid over $1 million for the installation of infrastructure for a supply of electricity “under economic duress.”

In the claim, Anand Low Price Supermarket Company is challenging the legality of the Commission’s capital contribution policy which requires customers to pay for electrical lines and infrastructure.

The company, represented by attorney Michael Rooplal, is asking the court to find that the policy is illegal as it is ultra vires the T&TEC Act.

The company is also seeking reimbursement in the sum of $1.08 million. Since T&TEC is the country’s sole electricity supplier, the company is contending that the money was paid under economic duress. According to the statement of case, in 2012 the company approached T&TEC for the supply of electricity to its premises at Siparia Erin Road, Penal. The company was thereafter informed that it would have to pay a Capital Contribution to install the infrastructure necessary for the electricity supply.

The company wrote to T&TEC in March 2016 informing them of the voltage requirement and layout of the premises.

In January 2017, T&TEC advised the company of its terms and conditions, including the provision and installation of civil costs.

The company was first advised that it would be required to pay $1,07 million, then the following month T&TEC sent another letter with a revised cost of $1,08 million.

The company paid the sum in March 2017.

However, in October 2017, T&TEC advised the company that a surplus had been paid and it would be credited to one of the company’s accounts. In response to a pre-action protocol letter, T&TEC’s corporate secretary stated that the company would not be reimbursed.

The company further claimed that other T&TEC customers in the Penal/Debe region have benefited from the infrastructure and it has been discriminated against.

The company also contended that it has been deprived of crucial financial capital which would have been otherwise used in the furtherance of its business.

It is also seeking a declaration that T&TEC had been unjustly enriched. The claim was filed electronically and a hearing date has not yet been fixed.