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Friday 19 July 2019
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Expert concerned over TT’s continued CNG investment

JAMES LANSER

Government should redirect its spending from compressed natural gas (CNG) infrastructure towards more renewable energy areas, specifically in electric vehicles.

Speaking with Newsday at the Energy Chamber's Energy Efficiency and Renewables Conference at the Hilton Trinidad in St Ann's, Dr Curtis Boodoo said he was concerned about the continued investment in CNG over other renewables.

Boodoo said whilst he is "aware that we need fuelling stations for all the CNG vehicles" in the country, he believes that Government should redirect some of that money into electric vehicles." Government could also use electric vehicles in some of its own fleets, such as in the TT Police Service and the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC).

Boodoo used the example of Chile, where he said a large portion of public transportation buses are fully electric. "I would like to see the PTSC with a few electric buses in their fleet as a start." Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any such movement at the time.

PTSC is supposed to acquire 300 new buses later this year. Cabinet already approved the purchase of the buses, which are due to be financed by the Chinese government. They will be a CNG-diesel hybrid, although Boodoo wishes they were electric. "We need to stop importing dirty vehicles like diesel."

When asked what he thought was the main problem regarding the transition to renewable energy, Boodoo said the major issue is not having someone to properly coordinate both camps (CNG and electric). Government needs to make a decision on which pathway they are taking, he said, because while the government has a state company that invests in CNG, they are not putting any taxes on electric vehicles. The more long-term path is investment in electric vehicles.

Currently, TT has incentives that make purchasing electric and CNG powered cars more attractive. Currently, motor vehicle taxes (MVT), value added tax (VAT) and the customs duties are removed from the import of new and used electric cars that are less than four years old. The same incentives apply to hybrid electric cars that are less than two years old.

Boodoo said these incentives need to be extended for at least another five years after they expire. Newsday attempted to clarify the Government's stance with Energy Ministry Franklin Khan but he did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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