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New Energy Plan Coming

Nizam Baksh Minister of Public Utilities together with Kevin Ramnarine, Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs yesterday during high-level discussions with executives of T&TEC, National Gas Company, Phoenix Park Gas and Ministry officials at the Ministry's San Fernando office, Maska compound, La Romaine. Photo: RISHI RAGOONATH

In the wake of Friday’s nationwide blackout, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine says the Government will be looking towards alternative energy sources to help bolster local electricity supplies. Speaking with reporters yesterday, Ramnarine said what the Good Friday blackout has shown “is the importance of diversifying away from fossil fuels.”

The minister made the statement while responding to reporters after high-level talks with executives from the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC), National Gas Company (NGC), Trinidad Generation Unlimited (TGU) and Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd at the ministry’s Maska compound office, La Romaine.


Renewable energy coming
He said three renewable energy projects were approved in the last budget for the Ministry of Energy. “One was solar lighting on community centres, the other was installing solar photo-voltaic cells in schools and the third was resource assessment study,” he explained. Ramnarine said the study was under way and would be in collaboration with the Green Fund and University of the West Indies.


“It is really to determine where are the areas in Trinidad to establish wind farms,” he said. “And without even a study, we know the best areas are Manzanilla and Mayaro. Lots of constant wind. That study will start shortly.” The minister said powerful solar lights were installed at nine community centres. He said he was pleased to see that on the night of the blackout, lights of the surveillance bays, which are solar, were on. Ramnarine said during the meeting it was recommended that all major intersections of Trinidad and Tobago have some sort of solar lighting to keep the traffic lighting system working to avoid accidents.


No sabotage
The minister said the root cause of the problem which led to the blackout “resides in the bypass valve system that is operated by Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd and the National Gas Company.” He said both companies have been mandated to examine that system with the view of upgrading that system to ensure that it never happens again. Ramnarine stressed that “thus far there is no evidence of sabotage” in the blackout that left citizens in darkness in both Trinidad and Tobago for several hours. He said: “No, it was not an attempted coup. Absolutely not. It was a mechanical issue. We would like to thank the national community for their patience. The community must be congratulated for showing their patience.”


Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, he said, will recieve a comprehensive report on the blackout on Thursday. He explained that the companies involved have either completed their individual reports or are in the process of completing their reports. “So what we are going to do is collate all those reports at the Ministry of Energy tomorrow (today) and use that for the report that will go to Cabinet on Thursday,” he added. The minister also revealed that he will be taking a note to Cabinet to appoint a committee comprising of T&TEC, PowerGen, TGU and University of the West Indies to come up with a long-term plan for the power sector.


“We are seeing that in the not too distant future, in five to six years, T&T will require another new power plant,” he said, as he pointed to increasing demand for electricity from the residential sector. While Minister of Public Utilities Nizam Baksh assured that T&TEC was working to ensure the nation had a reliable supply of power there were reports of power disruptions in West Trinidad.However, Baksh said: “We are doing everything within our power to provide a regular and reliable supply of electricity. Certain things may be beyond your control, but we are certainly looking at every aspect of it. In fact, I am meeting with some of T&TEC managers tomorrow (today) and Wednesday.”


Ramnarine said yesterday’s meeting was productive and there were some positive recommendations. He said one of the main recommendations coming out of yesterday’s two-hour meeting was having dual fuel power plants in Trinidad. “The time has come to examine whether we have too many eggs in one basket, the natural gas basket, and we would want to install some dual fuel capacity in other power plants in Trinidad,” he said. “So we can switch onto diesel fuel oil and continue to supply the country.” Ramnarine said the role of the Trinidad Generation Unlimited power plant in La Brea in supplying electricity to the nation was also looked at in the meeting.


Category/ies:News, Trinidad and Tobago News.
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