How much electricity do we use in our homes in T&T

How much electricity do we use in our homes in T&T

In previous installments we reviewed the history of the electricity subsidy, how it works, its opportunity cost and the role that renewables and energy efficiency can have in reducing government expenditure on the electricity subsidy.  In the last installment we paid particular attention to the generation of electricity in Trinidad and Tobago and found that significant improvements in the efficiency of our power generation assets can create increased government revenue and foreign exchange.  This is relevant in the context of renewable energy as well.  It is unwise to put a solar panel on an inefficient house and it is just as unwise to put a solar farm on an inefficient country.  So what is the level of electricity consumption in T&T’s households?  To answer that question we have to get an understanding of how we categorize and pay for electricity in Trinidad and Tobago.

Consumption and Price Categories

Residential electricity consumption is priced based on the amount of energy used by a household on a bi-monthly basis.  The 3 usage categories are as follows:

1.     1-400kwh

2.     401-1000kwh

3.     >1000kwh

Numerous studies have shown that subsidies lead to wasteful behaviors and T&T is no different.  Despite having 3 consumption categories at various prices, roughly 43% of all households in the country fell in the highest usage category of >1000kwh.  In addition the average bi-monthly consumption of these households in 2015 was roughly 2100kwh (See Table 1).  Comparing this level of consumption to other regions highlights a startling reality; 43% of homes in T&T have a consumption level that is on par with the average North American home, twice that of the average European home and 3 times the global average.  Moreover, 70% of all residential power in Trinidad and Tobago is consumed by this 43% which to some extent illustrates the level of income inequality in the country. 

Why is Consumption in T&T so high

There are approximately 400,000 households in T&T putting the average number of persons per household at ~3 persons per home.  While the average North American household is slightly smaller at ~2.6 persons per household there is still a large gap between both the standard of living and income levels between T&T and North America.  Taking these factors into consideration it is clear that the reason for the high levels of consumption in T&T comes down to the choices we make.  Over the last 15 years, during what some now term the ‘gas boom’, the standard of living and levels of income in Trinidad improved greatly and so did our electricity consumption.  However, for many of us the decision to purchase new A/C units, clothes dryers, water heaters, dish washers and appliances may have been done in the absence of energy efficiency considerations.  More importantly, low electricity prices result in the population giving less critical thought to overall energy consumption , regardless of whether or not appliances are energy efficient.

How can you get a measure of where your electricity consumption falls? 

Using Table 2 you can determine how your electricity consumption compares to the average North American household.  The table has been normalized to account for the small difference in the number of persons per household between North America and T&T.  Therefore, if you pay more than $900.00 TTD for electricity on a bi-monthly basis you are using more electricity than the average North American household and you are part of the 43%. If you are therefore paying more than $1900.00 TTD you are using more than twice the amount of electricity as the average North American household (See Table 2).

Curbing our consumption

The government has illustrated in the budget that Trinidad and Tobago is being faced with tougher economic times.  It has been stated many times that the energy resources of Trinidad and Tobago belong to the people and are the lifeblood of the economy.  Taking ownership of our energy resources means that each of us must play our part and take a closer look at how we manage the use of these resources in our daily lives.  As we learned from previous installments in this series, reductions in demand for electricity present an opportunity to increase government revenues by further reducing the power sector’s consumption of natural gas and increasing the export of gas based commodities.  Therefore those of us who live in households that are part of the 43% must consider that reductions in our energy consumption do have a knock on impact on the wider economy.  Similarly, the government needs to lead by example and ensure that government offices use less as well.  In addition, the government has to create the enabling environment to allow citizens to easily purchase energy efficient appliances through Duty and VAT exemptions on the import of these critical items. 

Over the past few installments we have thoroughly examined where we stand with respect to subsidies and energy efficiency. Next we will be taking an in depth look at renewable energy and how the economics stack up in the Trinidad and Tobago context.

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This is part 4 in the series Understanding the Electricity Subsidy in Trinidad & Tobago by Christopher Narine Thomas, Chairman of Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy at the Energy Chamber.

What impact can energy efficiency and renewable energy have in T&T?

What impact can energy efficiency and renewable energy have in T&T?

The effect of price movements on the subsidy can be clearly seen through the period 2014 to 2016  when commodity prices began to fall sharply beginning October 2014. By the start of 2016 commodity prices had fallen by almost 60%.  This had a downward effect on the magnitude of the electricity subsidy as the gap between the price paid for gas for used in petrochemicals fell closer to the subsidized price paid for gas for used in electricity.  Consumption of electricity also had an effect on the downward movement of the subsidy. 

Double whammy for Petrotrin: Low market prices and low margins

Double whammy for Petrotrin: Low market prices and low margins

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Energy Chamber remembers Dr Anthony N Sabga

Energy Chamber remembers Dr Anthony N Sabga

The Energy Chamber joins the business and national community in paying tribute to the late Dr. Anthony N. Sabga.  We recognize the immense impact that Mr. Sabga’s life as an entrepreneur and visionary has had on the society of Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. 

Energy Chamber remembers Henley Harewood

Energy Chamber remembers Henley Harewood

The Board and Executive Office of the Energy Chamber joins with the membership in expressing deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of the late Henley Harewood.

Press Release: Angelin project

Press Release: Angelin project

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Press Release: Safety and the Right to refuse work

Press Release: Safety and the Right to refuse work

A strong safety culture is vital for the continued success and competitiveness of the Trinidad & Tobago energy sector. Every individual working on any energy sector facility has a duty to stop work in any situation that will put themselves or others in harm’s way.  The misuse of this stop work duty by trade unions, as a cover for illegal strike action over pay, is extremely damaging to safety culture and undermines the entire safety management in the sector.

Egypt, a priority for BP - will T&T get left behind?

Egypt, a priority for BP - will T&T get left behind?

BP has a long history in Egypt and has been helping the country meet its energy needs for more than half a century, investing over $30 billion during that period. They also claim that with its partners, BP provides almost 10% of the country’s oil production and 40% of its gas and noted record investment in major projects in the Nile Delta set to significantly boost the supply of much-needed domestic energy. 

BHP Billiton moves Petroleum Accounting & Reporting from Houston to T&T

BHP Billiton moves Petroleum Accounting & Reporting from Houston to T&T

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Formalising the local content agenda

Formalising the local content agenda

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Angelin development plans

Angelin development plans

The Angelin project will be BP’s next major project in Trinidad and Tobago, following on from Juniper. Although Angelin has not yet been officially sanctioned, BP has begun submitting documents to the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) in Trinidad outlining the project development. 

Increasing methanol prices

Increasing methanol prices

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LeClerc, the potential opening of a new deepwater gas play - Gas to market by early-mid 2020s

LeClerc, the potential opening of a new deepwater gas play - Gas to market by early-mid 2020s

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Shell: Building the integrated gas business in Trinidad

Shell: Building the integrated gas business in Trinidad

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Effective regulatory agencies critical to future of the sector

Effective regulatory agencies critical to future of the sector

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Falling off Mt. Trinidad

Falling off Mt. Trinidad

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PowerGen upgrades means more gas for energy

PowerGen upgrades means more gas for energy

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What MHTL plant closures mean for T&T energy?

What MHTL plant closures mean for T&T energy?

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