Flashback: Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales cuts the ribbon with Laventille East/Morvant MP Adrian Leonce during the official launch of the Pitch Road Booster Station in Morvant. Looking on at far left is Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds and WASA’s interim CEO Sherland Sheppard.

The Water and Sewerage Authority’s transformation plan is complete and as it goes forward, Government intends complying with its responsibilities in workers’ collective bargaining agreements.

“And there’s absolutely nothing to be concerned about,” added Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales yesterday.

Gonzales made the point while speaking about his ministry in yesterday’s Senate debate on the 2022 Budget. He detailed new plans in the water, power and sanitation sectors.

WASA’s transformation plan was completed by consultants.

It offers a comprehensive roadmap, including new functional and organisational structure, supporting operational systems driven by modern technologies; new business model for promoting financial self-sufficiency and industrial relations strategy that supports organisational restructuring.

On utility rate hikes, Gonzales noted the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC), in December 2020, had advertised that the rate review process had started.

He said, “We await the outcome of that. Both T&TEC and WASA have completed their business plans in order to be submitted to the RIC. The RIC will undertake its work and communicate with the national population and do its studies. At the end of its process, the RIC will make the recommendations with respect to rate reviews for WASA and T&TEC to Government and Government will determine what subsidy arrangement will be put in place to protect the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged.”

He noted that a rebate system was already increased to 35 per cent in the Budget and a Cash Card system planned.

Gonzales said he thinks both utilities are, “badly in need of a rate review.”

He said “independence and financial sustainability demand that their rates must be in alignment with current market trends so they can raise revenue to take care of their circumstances so they can provide modern services.”

He said utilities also need new business models due to the effects of climate change, which affects water supply when there’s heavy rains and electricity also.

Gonzales said WASA’s Community Booster Project, part of the utility’s transformation—ensuring people get water in taps—will benefit 100,000 who will receive water for the first time. He lauded WASA workers who haven’t sought overtime for working on the project.

Other plans Gonzales identified coming are:

• Design of a new state of the art engineered sanitary landfill at the Forres Park Landfill—this will facilitate the closure and rehabilitation of the Beetham and Guanapo landfills, which have exceeded their capacities.

• Collaboration with NGC to capture and utilise methane gas from the Forres Park Landfill.

• Agreement between SWMCOL and the National Gas Company to facilitate exploration of opportunities for capturing and utilising methane gas from the Forres Park Landfill, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

• Revised Integrated Water Resources Management Policy —will soon be resubmitted to Cabinet.

• Revised Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Policy and Action Plan has been completed and will soon be submitted to Cabinet.

• Integrated Resource and Resilience Plan for the power generation sector for the next 25 years.

• T&TEC and the ministry working to develop a Wind Resource Assessment Project and Wind Feasibility Study to determine potential wind power generation in T&T. Lands in East, South, Central and later Tobago will be used to for Wind Unit technological studies.

• Selection of the Lightsource bp, bp and Shell consortium for teneration of 112 MW of solar electricity for the country. This and two other solar photovoltaic (PV) projects are at varying stages of completion.

• T&TEC and Masdar Clean Energy Company from Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) will install vehicle charging stations powered by a grid-connected solar PV system, located at a new car park near the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah. The plant will be owned and operated by T&TEC with National Carnival Commission as landlord.