A bright future

TTEC customer Hugh Ramsey shows the free LED bulbs he collected at TTEC's Park St, Port of Spain payment centre on September 22.  - SUREASH CHOLAI
TTEC customer Hugh Ramsey shows the free LED bulbs he collected at TTEC's Park St, Port of Spain payment centre on September 22. - SUREASH CHOLAI

The light bulb is the universal symbol of new ideas, but there’s nothing new about the Government’s pledge to distribute 1.6 million LED bulbs.

Promised since last year, distribution of the bulbs began in earnest only on Tuesday at the TT Electricity Commission (TTEC)’s Marabella Service Centre. Having waited a year, a further wait greeted those who lined up at the centre to collect.

Distributing light bulbs to an estimated 400,000 households in the country can hardly be expected to move at the speed of light.

Yet the fact that the process has only now begun is nonetheless a sign of how long it takes to get things done in the public service. This is part of the problem.

To be fair, it was reported that the distribution had been planned for April, and this was slowed due to covid19.

TTEC, too, has said a public tender process was also facilitated and that had to take some time.

“This is why it took just under a year to come to fruition,” a TTEC corporate communications officer said of the process that will see the State spend about $8.8 million.

Public procurement should always be thorough, but what the country demands is efficiency: working at a certain quality at a certain pace. Indeed, it is efficiency of a kind that this entire measure is meant to address — energy efficiency.

Still, the bulbs have finally come to light and that is a good thing for our energy usage as well as consumers who stand to save as much as $25 per bill cycle.

However, nobody should expect this measure alone to bring about a culture of conservatism.

Indeed, since many households have already embraced the use of LED bulbs this measure should be seen as a matter of TT catching up with the rest of the world.

And the delay in implementation points to why procurement reform is needed. That need is hardly a bright insight.

When it comes to energy conservation in this guava season, what is required is action that not only catches up with the rest of the world but places us ahead of the curve.

What is the outcome of other measures announced in last year’s budget? Was the promised energy audit of all government buildings undertaken? What were the findings and recommendations and were they implemented? Are we on target to reduce energy usage at schools?

It may well be the case that we are given the lucky fact that school premises are shuttered.

In uncertain times, it is easy to not want to rock the boat too much.

It is equally the case that the appetite for change and a sense of our society being improved, notwithstanding all of the challenges is a powerful thing.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert, when he comes to address the country in a few days, should give cause for hope, particularly on matters of green energy and conservation.

We need technological transformation that feels within reach, one that maximises our natural resources, while guaranteeing that for future generations the lights will never go out.

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