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Jan 13, 2012

P.U.C. Chairman explains the New B.E.L. Rates

The reduction in electricity rates was tabled this morning in the House following Thursday’s initial decision by the Public Utilities Commission. The government owned Belize Electricity Limited on December first, 2011 submitted a request to drop electricity rates by three point four percent, but after reviewing factors including the utility company’s business plan and sales projections, the P.U.C. went further and decided on a reduction of six point one percent. If there are no objections to the initial decision, and none is expected, by February first, the lower rates should be reflected on light bills.  Chairman of the P.U.C., John Avery, gave a breakdown of the rates explaining why industrial customers will see the smallest rate reduction while residential consumers would enjoy a larger decrease.

John Avery, Chairman/Director General, Public Utilities Commission

John Avery

“There are several different rates, as you realize. We have rates for social customers, residential customers, commercial and industrial. So generally, the rates dropped two cents to three cents depending on the class of the customer. It’s a percentage so the lower the rate, if you apply that percentage, then the actual dollar value is smaller. So you will find that commercial customers and residential customer, each rate for each block dropped about three cents [per kilowatt hour]. For most other customers it was two cents, except for the industrial two; those only decreased by one cent. The reason for that is that the law requires that the rates must cover the cost of providing service to a customer and we felt that if we dropped that any further, that might not be true. So we could not give the industrial customers the full two cents drop that most other people got. The thing is the industrial customers pay the lowest average other than the social rate as it is. So they’re already paying a lower rate than residential and commercial so with that reduction they’re still going to be paying probably the lowest rate.”

Delahnie Bain

“So what bracket of customers is expected to benefit the most from this?”

John Avery

“Well it’s a six point one percent that we applied almost across the board equally. The only one that didn’t get the six point one percent decrease is the industrial customers. But like I said, the social rate was at twenty-six cents so the six percent reduction translates to two cent reduction. Residential people were paying rates in the forties so the six percent was approximately three cents. So the percentage drop is the same but the cents is a bigger drop because they were paying a higher rate. I would like to point out here—because even though the overall decrease is six point one percent, the actual decrease that consumers will enjoy is six point six percent because the rate was not allowed on the street lighting rates that government pays. So that six point one percent was spread out on just a portion of the consumption. So in effect the rest of consumers are getting a six point six percent decrease.”

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