L to R – Former T&TEC Chairman, Keith Sirju; Electrical Engineer, Professor Chandrabhan Sharma Ph.D.; Ag Prime Minister Hon Colm Imbert MP; Ag Supt of Police/Special Branch Officer, Allister Guevarro; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Maurice Suite. (Image courtesy Office of the Prime Minister/Communications)

Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert MP, has confirmed that the three-member Independent Expert Committee set up to probe issues surrounding the nationwide blackout on February 16, has begun its work.

An official statement released today by the Communications Ministry in the Office of the Prime Minister notes the team has one month to report on its findings.

The following is the full text of the statement issued by the PM’s Office…

The Hon Colm Imbert made statements on behalf of the Office of the Prime Minister on the establishment of an independent expert committee to investigate the cause of, and national response to, the nationwide power outage on Wednesday February 16, 2022.

It is to be noted that, over the last twelve (12) years, there have been a number of major electricity power outages in Trinidad and Tobago.

  1. In July 2010, lightning struck a PowerGen power station during heavy rains, causing seven generators to trip at the Point Lisas facility, affecting areas in Point Fortin, Fyzabad, Santa Flora and surrounding areas.
  2. August 2011, lightning struck T&TEC’s Bamboo substation in Valsayn, and power outages occurred in north, central and east Trinidad.
  3. December 2012, a blackout along the entire north-west of Trinidad stumped Christmas shopping.
  4. March 29, 2013 – It took up to eighteen (18) hours for electricity to be restored in several areas of the country, such as northwest Trinidad. The aftermath attracting the attention of foreign news media, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Tampa Tribune and Miami Herald.

Wednesday’s nationwide outage resulted in loss of power to several areas in north Trinidad for up to twelve (12) hours. Several areas in the south got their supply back within five (5) hours. However, Tobago, which has its own supply, was not affected.

The Government considers the outage to be a very serious matter which requires immediate independent and expert investigation. The Office of the Prime Minister has appointed a three-man (3) Specialist Team to thoroughly investigate, determine the cause of, and the national response to the nationwide electricity power outage that occurred on Wednesday February 16, 2022.

The Team will be headed by retired Professor of Electrical Engineering, Chandrabhan Sharma, PhD. The second Team member is Mr. Keith Sirju, a distinguished Structural Engineer and retired UWI Lecturer. The third member is acting Superintendent Allister Guevarro, a senior police officer, currently assigned to the Special Branch, with 25 years’ experience in policing.

The Team will be empowered to co-opt any other expertise and resources that it requires and is expected to report with one (1) month.