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Dec 13, 2016

Santander to Provide New Power Source Beginning in 2017

Three years ago, Belize Electricity Limited and the Public Utilities Commission opened a request for proposals for electricity generation of both traditional and renewable energy sources. Following a lengthy and occasionally controversial process of identifying the most viable sources and negotiating with them, B.E.L. and the P.U.C. are now set to sign a number of power purchase agreements in the coming weeks. The first was today with SS Energy Limited, who will provide sixteen megawatts of energy from a bagasse co-generation plant alongside the Santander Sugar Mill in central Cayo District. Santander is a company of Spanish origin based in Guatemala, which drew some concern due to the ongoing problems with that country. But both sides are eager to do business and resolve a long-standing concern of lower production and higher reliance on Mexico in the dry season. We hear from representatives of Santander, B.E.L. and the P.U.C.

 

John Avery

John Avery, Chairman, Public Utilities Commission

“They had bid for sixteen megawatts of capacity and associated energy in two phases: one to be completed this year, and for the trade in energy to start – well, the commercial date, the operation date for the PPA is February first, 2017. However, during the commissioning period, B.E.L. may elect, and SSEL may elect to sell and B.E.L. may elect to purchase whatever energy is being generated while the plant is being commissioned; so there may be some trading prior to February first.”

 

Ernesto Gomez

Ernesto Gomez, Senior Manager, Energy Supply, B.E.L.

“The uniqueness of this project is really assisting us in upgrading our management of power for the country. During the dry season, we normally try to conserve water for emergency purpose in the hydroelectric reservoir, in the dams; well, the production of this energy will be right at the time when we really want to reserve the water for the dams, so it is quite a complement. We wish that the facility can have some good drys and some extended production, to cover more of the dry; but coming in right in the middle of the dry is a good opportunity for us to manage the resources we have in country and try to make the best out of it.”

 

Jose Rodriguez

Jose Rodriguez, C.E.O., Santander Group

“It’s a renewable source that we don’t burn any fossil fuels, so as I mentioned it’s going to help the world reduce the greenhouse effect gases and it’s going to make Belize a country that is helping in that matter; and also it will be energy produced in Belize.”

 

According to Avery, the eighteen cents per kilowatt-hour which B.E.L. will pay is slightly less than the payment for the similar BELCOGEN project based at Tower Hill, Orange Walk, and compares favourably with other outstanding sources, including Mexico. Other companies who will be signing with B.E.L. and the P.U.C. include Blair Atoll Power Company and Southern Renewable Energy Limited, the latter for the hydro-electric projects approved at Chalillo Two and Swasey River, although those need to go through environmental review and consultation.

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