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Mar 24, 2020

B.E.L. Says No Light Bill Waiver Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Amid the crushing economic impact of the coronavirus crisis many, including the opposition, are calling on government to have its majority-owned utility companies waive their respective bills for the next few months.  In fact, that request resounds across several private sector and non-government organizations, given the magnitude of financial losses thus far.  Belize Electricity Limited has since come forward to say, “not so fast.”  This afternoon the senior management of B.E.L. hosted a press conference where they laid bare the company’s monthly revenue, as well as its outlays.  Despite grossing twenty-one million dollars on a monthly basis, they report that a majority of it is used to cover operational expenses, including the purchasing of power from other independent sources.  According to Sean Fuller, General Manager of Commercial and Retail Services, while the overall situation is dire, B.E.L. won’t be allowing its customers to defer their payments, nor will it be waiving light bills during this period.  In fact, Fuller says that each situation will be dealt with on a case by case basis, depending on the customer’s ability to demonstrate difficulty meeting their payment.


Sean Fuller

Sean Fuller, GM, Commercial & Retail Services, BEL

“On a monthly basis, our revenue which is the amount that we collect from our customers on a monthly basis for their consumption of electricity is around twenty-one and a half million dollars.  So every month, we bill customers in Belize, all ninety-eight thousand, approximately twenty-one and a half million dollars per month and based on that expected collection of that revenue for electricity consumed is used to pay our independent power producers.  These are the private companies such as CFE, BECOL, BELCOGEN, Santander, BAPCOL, Hydro Maya and our own B.E.L. generation in Caye Caulker where we have to buy fuel to run those generating plants and the gas turbine at Mile Eight that also consumes fuel. As of today, our bill, outstanding payables to these same independent power producers is about sixty million dollars.  So we typically get energy from them, they send us a bill and in the situation we are in today we are about  two or three months behind, so we are about sixty million dollars owing to them as it is today. So that really leaves us with about point eight million dollars of available money if B.E.L. collects the full twenty-one and a half million dollars from customers.  Now we all know we have customers who have been laid off, we have some customers that are really in a situation that they really cannot pay their bill currently because they don’t have a job.  As Ms. Sampson mentioned, we are prepared to work with these customers.  If they contact us, we will look at each case and determine whether or not it is in fact a legitimate case because we’ve had cases where customers who we know can pay their bills have been advocating for not paying their bills because of this issue.”

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