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Jul 14, 2004

P.U.C. tightens up electrical code

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The Public Utilities Commission today announced a new initiative, which it says, is designed to make the use of electricity safer in Belize. According to the P.U.C., the approved practice for connection of electricity supply to all buildings will now require a certificate from a licensed wireman, technician or engineer before Belize Electricity Limited can turn on the power. It’s a move that the P.U.C. says will eliminate situations like this, where electricity sharing exposes people to the dangers of electrocution and loss of property due to illegal connections. According to the P.U.C.’s director of monitoring and compliance, Herman Charlesworth, implementation of the “Fitness-for-turn-on Certificate” programme will bring hardship to some customers, but that compared to the cost of a life, the changes are worth the extra effort.

Herman Charlesworth, Dir., Monitoring and Compliance

?All houses that are already wired and are properly wired, there is no problem with getting disconnected. Any house that requires a new connection will require that it?s done by a licensed wireman that is categorized to that part of the job. Any house that is illegally wired, that is having wires running on the ground, feeding their houses etc and doesn?t have their own service entrance, those are the houses that we are concerned about and that this press release is targeting.?

?The fitness for turn on certificate is a booklet that comes in twenty-five pages that the wiremen carries, that we issue. It basically comes in three parts. The first part tells you all about the installation detail, who the project is for. The second part is an authorization, and that tells you that P.U.C. has authorized it, and that is only authorized when the work is over a hundred amps. And the third part is of more importance which is signed by the wireman saying that the work is completed and it?s ready for turn on and that he is fully liable for any claims that may arise.?

Patrick Jones, Reporter

?Why the need for this??

Herman Charlesworth

?The need arise for that because there are a lot of electrical installations that were being done in the country without people that were licensed. And the need came for some sort of paper that the wiremen can sign to accept liability for the work that he has done. And its also protects the consumers and ensure that the consumer gets a decent job. And it also ensures that B.E.L. is free from any problem later on if the consumer goes back to B.E.L.?

Patrick Jones

?Your release also makes mention that along with Belize Electricity Limited you are going to crack down on the so called illegal connections??

Herman Charlesworth

?Illegal connections are when one building is wired and has electricity already, then another resident?s building, electrical installation is nearby, what happens is the consumer often will take an undersized wire in more than often cases and connect the other house which provides no sort of protection and it can cause fire and death.?

Patrick Jones

? Why choose this time to do it? Is it becoming so much of a problem that the P.U.C has to now step in and regulate this??

Herman Charlesworth

?It has become a huge problem. A lot of places in Belize City and especially in the areas that have sub standard housing seem to do this practice a lot. We are aware that it has from based on an economic stand point that someone appears that they might not want to connect because of the cost and so they try to find different avenues to cut corners. But we as the regulator, we are more concerned of the safety of the public at large and to eliminate the unnecessary or the possibility of injury or death or even someone losing their home through fire.?

Charlesworth explained that existing consumers will not be affected by this new rule, except when there is an expansion to the building. The disconnection of service to legitimate consumers found aiding illegal connections will begin in August. A full list of licensed electricians, technicians and engineers is available from the office of the P.U.C.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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