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Sep 18, 2014

B.E.L. to Electrify a Thousand Homes for Free

Forty-three communities across the country will be added to the national grid. Included are a thousand Belizeans who will get free service entrance installations for electricity. The project is called Connecting Homes Improving Lives; it is being undertaken jointly between Belize Electricity Limited and the European Union. For one, it will reduce illegal connections and secondly, BEL hopes that those who connect via their neighbors will now become legit consumers. Duane Moody was in Camalote today when the first resident in that community joined the national grid.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Belize Electricity Limited today officially launched the Connecting Homes Improving Lives Project in Camalote village. For years, while electrical wires run through the village, a particular area, west of the electrical plant on the George Price Highway, was without electricity. The initiative aims to improve the quality of life of Belizeans through free service entrance installations in communities across the country.

 

Sean Fuller

Sean Fuller, Sr. Mgr., Information & Communications System, B.E.L.

“The European Union, the Government of Belize and B.E.L. initiated a project to electrify forty-three communities throughout this country. At the end of the project, we did a survey and we realized that about thirty or forty percent of the customers within these communities are connected to the system. The additional sixty or so percent of residents just could not afford the basic service entrance required to connect to the network. So the savings that we realized from the initial project, we went back to the EU and requested the use of those savings to install service entrances for the needy.”

 

People within the community have simply been getting a drop of electricity from a neighbor, while others have illegal connections in place, which can lead to fires and damage to appliances. That is because a service entrance installation is between eight hundred and fifteen hundred dollars, says Senior Manager of Information and Communication Systems, Sean Fuller.

 

Sean Fuller

“We have quite a number of people in this country using electricity from wires running to neighbors houses or as you mentioned possibly illegally—connected to the grid. One of the things we want this project to facilitate is to get these people connected legitimately. Most of these people actually pay someone for the electricity that they get; they can afford to pay a bill, they just cannot afford to buy and install the service entrance. So we are hoping that getting these service entrances into these communities and to these residences, they’ll be able to legitimately get power and pay their light bills on a monthly basis.”

 

And then there was light. The first to benefit from the initiative is Mark Andrews.

 

Mark Andrews

Mark Andrews, Recipient

“It was hard because I was paying high bills because I was borrowing current from the neighbor. I wasn’t happy with it because I knew that I was paying more than I was supposed to pay.”

 

Duane Moody

“How is this going to change your life now—not only for yourself, but for your family and your kids?”

 

Mark Andrews

“Well having my own will be better because I could burn it how I want and whatever I will burn, I will be happy with it because I will have to pay. So that will be a great change for me and my family.”

 

Godwin Hulse

This service entrance installation provided to Andrews is the first of one thousand that will be set up across forty-three plus communities across the country. Eight hundred and fifty of those are being sponsored by the European Union and a hundred and fifty by B.E.L.; i.e. the Government of Belize.

 

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Rural Development

“More fundamentally though, which is important, is the government’s push in rural electrification, rural water systems to be able to meet our millennium development goals and this is the focus of our ministry and this is an example.”

 

B.E.L. along with assistance from the Ministry of Rural Development has created the selection criteria that will be used to determine who, of the thousands of persons that would likely apply for the service, would benefit from the project. Duane Moody for News Five.

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