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PUC extends deadline for comments on electricity rate increase 

HeadlinePUC extends deadline for comments on electricity rate increase 

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 17, 2022– On Friday, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) extended the deadline for public consultation on the proposed electricity rate increase outlined in the Final Draft of the BEL 2021 Annual Review Proceeding. As was previously reported, the utility regulator has proposed a rate increase from 39.9 cents per kilowatt-hour to 41.58 cents per kilowatt-hour for the next six months of this year. BEL has said that they do not support an increase at this time, given the strenuous economic conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and, according to BEL chairman, Andrew Marshalleck, they prefer to recover the near 10 million dollars in the increased cost of power sometime after 2023.

The PUC, however, is asking more members of the public to reach out with comment submissions on this particular issue and has extended the deadline for comments to January 31. The original deadline date was January 15.

In the PUC release, the PUC chairman, Dean Molina, remarked, “The Commission is of the review that given the impact and importance of this decision, it is essential that we hear from as many people and organizations as we possibly can. In order to allow for additional time for individuals and organizations to submit comments, we have taken the decision to extend the deadline for Public Consultation, thereby, allowing all stakeholders an opportunity to make their voices heard.”

The company’s chairman says that an increase at this time will simply create more arrears for the company and additional difficulty in the area of collections. Chairman Marshalleck said that giving consumers some time to rebound is something that the company is in the position to do, given the sizable profits that it has made for the past two years — 40 million dollars in 2020 and 35 million dollars in 2021, according to Marshalleck. He said that allowing this ease on the consumer underpinned their December rate review submission.

In an interview with Ernesto Gomez, Director of Tariff Compliance and Standards at the PUC, he said that an increase at a later time could also be to the detriment of the consumers economically, since it is possible that the cost of power might increase during the proposed 2023-2024 period.

For now, the PUC is continuing to seek comments from stakeholders on this proposed increase and will likely have made a final decision by February 5, 2022, five days after the extended deadline.

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