Although the T&T Electricity Commission (T&TEC) has spent more $60 million in the last five months to improve its service, it is hampered by $225 million in arrears, with business and government entities among the biggest debtors. Chairman Keith Sirju said hospitals and ministries had not paid their electricity bills for several months and this was affecting T&TEC’s cash flow and its ability to carry out certain operations in a timely manner. He said T&TEC had implemented a plan to recover the arrears but was mindful of the fact that some of the delinquent institutions were not ones where “you just can go and take off the electricity.” He explained: “Some of these customers that are owing T&TEC are providing services to the country and to citizens. I don’t want to call the names out in public.” Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte said T&TEC had been trying to do more with less and in the last six months its board has implemented measures, including increasing in-house work and reducing overtime. He said the public could help by reducing their electricity usage. Le Hunte said a 15 per cent reduction in customer consumption would save the country $100 million in three years. This means less gas used to produce electricity which would increase the supply that could be sold internationally at a higher price. T&TEC has applied to the Regulated Industries Commission for a review of its rates. Le Hunte said the rates citizens paid for electricity was one-sixth of the average paid in other Caribbean countries. “The whole message is that of conservation. As I said, it is a win-in situation and if people reduce their consumption, they will benefit. In some cases, based on how people utilise electricity, they might be able to reduce by more than 15 per cent and that is not only for our consumers, even the employers. “I have spoken about the air conditioning units in buildings, so we all have to work towards exercising or inculcating a culture of conservation. Businesses are leaving units on after working hours,” he said.