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Jul 6, 2017

BECOL Gets New Headquarters

There was a groundbreaking ceremony today in Cayo for a headquarters for the Belize Electric Company Limited, BECOL, whose parent company is Fortis. Fortis is the previous owner of Belize Electricity Limited, which was nationalized years ago.  The C.E.O. of Fortis, Barry Perry has been in Belize for the event. News Five was at the ceremony today and Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Belize Electric Company Limited, BECOL, notwithstanding the many years it has been operating in the local energy sector, is breaking ground for a new office building.  For as long as it has been in existence, this subsidiary of Fortis Inc. has been headquartered in the far reaches of the Cayo District, at the site of one of three hydroelectric dams owned by the company.  Convenience and longevity are factors that have at last influenced the decision to establish a presence on the outskirts of San Ignacio Town.

 

Lynn Young

Lynn Young, President & C.E.O., BECOL

“Originally, BECOL’s office was at the Mollejon Hydroplant which is down the Mollejon Road and it’s a distance away.  It was difficult for employees traveling in and out every day.  In fact, we had a bad accident a few years ago on that road.  So when we looked at it, we said, “You know what, we are part of the San Ignacio/Benque community.  We need to build, put our office out here.”  We rented an office and so we’re actually in San Ignacio Town right now, but we want to make a permanent presence in this part of the country.  It’s a really beautiful part of the country so we’re putting a permanent office here.”

 

The location is known as Xunan Vista Estates, an area near mile sixty-nine on the George Price Highway.  The setting provides a scenic view of the surrounding highlands.  Barry Perry is President and Chief Executive Officer of Fortis.

 

Barry Perry

Barry Perry, President & CEO, Fortis Inc.

“We really haven’t had a sort of corporate headquarters for BECOL and this will be that corporate headquarters and we are very, very happy to have it here in San Ignacio where most of our employees operate from that take care of our hydroelectric plants in the country.”

 

Those facilities, three dams along the Macal River, are critical to the generation and delivery of forty percent of the country’s electricity supply.

 

Barry Perry

“We own three plants under BECOL which is Mollejon, Chalillo and Vaca.  These hydroplants supply forty percent of the energy consumed in the country and frankly, at very attractive pricing for customers in the country and I think they’re critical infrastructure for Belize and our goal is to make sure those plants are run in the best way we can and that they are maintained and available to be dispatched when B.E.L. calls upon them.  So we’ve been focused on that frankly and now we really would like to think about, can we do more.”

 

That ambition, in years to come, or perhaps sooner rather than later, will see a shift to more green offerings, in line with the country’s burgeoning ecotourism product.

 

Lynn Young

“Fortis has bought into Tucson Electric Power which is in Arizona and they are one of the leaders in solar energy supply, utility scale solar in the United States, so there’s a lot of experience there that we can draw on.  So our hope is that we can now bring that technology to Belize and keep Belize in the forefront in terms of renewable energy.  I think right now Belize is, about sixty percent of our power in Belize is renewable.  Hydro is about forty percent and then we have the biomass, that’s the bagasse, and you know, and then the rest, most of the rest is imported from Mexico.  So as we add more capacity, if we can add green capacity that keeps us in the forefront of being green as a country.  And that fits again, like I said, with the kind of tourism that we are offering.”

 

The cost of the new BECOL headquarters, designed by International Environments, is estimated at one million U.S. dollars and a contract for construction of the building will be awarded via a bidding process. Isani Cayetano for News Five.

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