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Jun 20, 2011

Fortis’s BECOL wields 52% of B.E.L.’s power when dams are full

While the government is about to change the proverbial bulb on B.E.L.’s management, there is still another possible battle in the distance with Fortis. Litigation over purchase costs for B.E.L. may be proceeded by additional concerns over its sister company, Belize Electric Company Limited (BECOL).  P.M. Barrow said he doesn’t foresee a BECOL takeover, but when the dams are filled with water, B.E.L.’s website claims that fifty-two percent of the electricity it sells consumers is purchased from BECOL. So, what’s to stop Fortis via BECOL from waging a price war with the government?

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“No they can’t because they are locked into power purchase agreements that have the force of law number one. And remember that BECOL was designated a utility provider and to some extent, it also falls under the sway of the public utilities commission. So there are legal backstops that would, we think, prevent FORTIS from trying to pull a fast one with respect to BECOL’s supply of hydro electricity to B.E.L.”

Jose Sanchez

“Nonetheless, their release does say that they are of the belief that they are a non-regulated electric provider.”

Dean Barrow

“I heard about that. You had asked me about that, I wonder how they could say that. They are not regulated in quite the same way as B.E.L. is, but there is enough regulation to make us feel confident that they simply can’t pull the plug.  I will tell you as well that we have put in the legislation—you’ll see it when you look at it—it will be a criminal offense for anybody to refuse without reasonable cause to sell power. We don’t think it will come to that, but we put it there to protect us and the Belizean consuming public.”

So today, in a matter of hours, the Barrow Administration moved in to nationalize the electricity company. It is the second nationalization by the government. In these two acts alone, the country’s debt has soared. And while the House meeting was about a takeover that wasn’t tabled on the Orders of the Day, three bills, described as draconian, were tabled for second readings: the indictable Procedure Amendment Bill; the Juries Amendment Bill and the Supreme Court of Judicature Amendment Bill. The first two bills provide legislation for trial without jury, while the Supreme Court bill seeks to provide that an appeal against the decision of a magistrate shall not operate as an automatic stay of execution of the decision under appeal.

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1 Response for “Fortis’s BECOL wields 52% of B.E.L.’s power when dams are full”

  1. Lindsay Howard says:

    I understand the BECOL agreement allows BECOL to sell power to BEL at whatever it costs BECOL to produce that power. So, BECOL has no incentive whatsoever to keep the cost of power down. In fact, with the takeover of BEL, BECOL may have a reason to increase the cost of producing power. Whatever it costs them, it will cost us, and I’m sure that cost is not going to decrease.

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