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Jan 6, 2022

P.U.C Had Been Monitoring B.E.L Reports When it Saw Inconsistencies

Ernesto Gomez

On Wednesday, the Public Utilities Commission issued a stinging press release announcing that electricity rates will go up by a penny per kilowatt hour this month. But, the utility regulator explained, from its point of view, that the Belize Electricity Limited had made purchases of power on occasions during the latter part of the year that were more expensive than alternative sources. It also accused the electricity provider of open quote “flouting the law and intentionally ignoring reasonable requests,” end quote. As we’ve explained, those requests were for disclosure of supporting invoices to prove that the company spent excess money to purchase power. Today the P.U.C’s Director of Tariffs, Ernesto Gomez, told us via a Zoom interview that the P.U.C. had been monitoring B.E.L.’s monthly reports and noticed some sharp inconsistencies in the cost of power in certain months.


Ernesto Gomez, Director of Tariffs, P.U.C

“In late October when we got the report for September, we realized that the regulated parameters that we had for cost of power were in the vicinity of twenty cents, and it turned out to be about twenty-five cents. That caused us as the regulator to investigate deeper and find out what happened, and we realized that it started really in August, running into September, all the way to the twenty-third or twenty-first of September; whereby, BEL was faced with an uneven pattern of weather. It seems that the rains would start normally in July or August and it started about the twenty-fifth of August and under that indication, B.E.L. made some decisions to dispatch (power), but it happened that we were in a drought watch and as a result, there was not going be any more rain. So, that decision that B.E.L. made caused the reservoirs of water be dispatched quite a bit at the Chalillo Dam, leaving us without that resource. So, in doing so, the protocol that B.E.L. used is basically to drain the dam to make space for the new rains to come, so we don’t have a spillage of water, but  of course the pattern was different, and as a result of that decision, coupled with the fact that CF.E. was having very cheap prices at that time, caused the variants of the expenditure to be significant. It’s basically decisions that B.E.L. did and of course, every decision costs money. So, the lessons to be learned here is to, apart from looking backwards at history, we need to look at the present and especially climatology that is changing so fast with climate change. Patterns are not exactly the same, and predictions are very good nowadays with the weather systems and the weather bureau and the regional weather, Caribbean Weather Bureau that we follow that tells you the expectations of rain for the region. So that’s basically the situation that drove the variants in the cost of power.”

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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