Economy — 10 April 2015 — by Adele Ramos
BEL proposes a 10.4% reduction in light bills

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Apr. 1, 2015–A fall in crude oil prices has meant that power generation from traditional fossil fuel sources has become less expensive, and now the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), a government-owned utility company, says that with Mexico shifting to more renewable energy options – particularly hydropower – consumers should see further savings on their light bills.

Since last January, the average electricity rate has dropped from 48.65 cents per kilowatt hour to the current rate of 41.29 cents per kilowatt hour – a total reduction of about 15%. If the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approves BEL’s request, consumers could see a reduction of another 10% or so, which would constitute a total rate reduction of 24% since last January. However, the current rates should remain in effect until the end of June 2015.

The PUC, which is the regulatory body which oversees such rate adjustments, may choose to approve a higher or lower electricity rate, but first, the Commission will perform an assessment of BEL’s proposal, as part of the annual tariff review proceedings for the period July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

BEL explained that, “The proposed rate reduction is attributed to a significant reduction in the cost of purchasing power from Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), following Mexico’s move to dispatch energy at a cheaper price, by utilizing hydroelectricity and moving to the use of cheaper, cleaner fuels such as natural gas and other renewable energy sources, compared to heavy fuel oil and diesel.”

It added that, “BEL’s request to reduce electricity rates for the 2015–2016 tariff period is in line with the company’s mission ‘to provide reliable electricity at the lowest sustainable cost, stimulate national development and improve the quality of life in Belize.’”

The company said that although every customer should see a reduction in their rates, the company is also proposing changes to the tariff basket that would result in further subsidies to social rate customers. It said that most of the cost savings would be passed on to residential and industrial customers, and provide additional cost savings to medium and large manufacturers that are not benefiting from the special industrial rates. The new tariff structure should also allow for additional streetlights to be installed, mainly in crime hotspots countrywide, the company added.

It notes that copies of its rate submission are available for viewing at the office of the PUC located at 41 Gabourel Lane, Belize City.

The PUC has not yet announced a schedule for the review of BEL’s tariff application.

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