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May 31, 2022

B.E.L Moving Towards Self Sufficiency

Belize Electricity Limited is preparing to expand its renewable energy sources in order to become self-sufficient. B.E.L. relies heavily on Mexican supplier C.F.E. to supply power to the national grid. While C.F.E. sells to Belize at mostly low rates, recurring instabilities in C.F.E.’s system often leads to countrywide blackouts. With a self-sufficient system in place, dependence on Mexico’s power supply would become secondary. B.E.L. would be able to adequately distribute its supply without relying on imported energy. According to the company, this initiative is data driven, and they believe the time to act is now. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Belize Electricity Limited is expanding its reliance on renewable energy. A least cost expansion study, recently completed, reveals the potential for investments in solar, winds, and battery powered energy, that could see renewable energy sources increase from fifty five percent of local supply to seventy percent in the short term. A least cost expansion study seeks to determine to determine the most economical generation expansion.


Sean Fuller

, General Manager, Commercial and Retail Service B.E.L

We are focusing on renewable energy resources and self sufficiency. Simply means we are looking at utility scale solar, the expansion studies suggesting we can get anywhere between forty five and sixty mega watts of solar on our network. To put that into perspective, what our entire grid needs right now is about a hundred and ten megawatts. The studies are saying we can have as much as forty five to sixty megawatts of solar on the network. It also talks about wind technology that we will be able to experiment based on studies that have shown potential of wind in the country. It also calls for battery systems where we will install ten or twenty megawatts size batteries technology system for immediate response when we have issues on the network, also solar intermittency.


Self-sufficiency would mean that the national grid will be less vulnerable to external shocks and nationwide blackouts like what occurred on Friday when BEL lost supply from Mexican supplier CFE.


Karique Marin

Karique Marin, Manager, Distribution Planning and Engineering B.E.L

What is important to understand, for a stable grid, the energy demand must match the energy supplied? When we lost the Mexican connection, the system responded as it should by shedding demand to match the supply available in country. We had area in Cayo, Stann Creek, Toledo, which remained with power from our local supply. We did however later on suffer a total power outage to the entire country as our local IPPS were unable to support the demand of these areas that remained online. Typically we aim for an hour and a half restoration time, however this process did take two and a half hours for most areas, but the system was restored before we connected to CFE.


New legislation will see the creation of a distributed generation system whereby households will be able to sell power back to the national grid.


Sean Fuller, General Manager, Commercial and Retail Service B.E.L


“The way how we are proposing to roll out distributed generation, first of all we have submitted to the PUC draft legislation to allowed for distributed generation, solar PV, that is both for the interconnection standards to ensure these systems are installed properly and connected to the system safely, and also two tariffs, the tariffs for distributed generation and a feed in tariff that allows B.E. L to be able to purchase power from these producers, independent producer, households, because they will have solar energy on their roof with excess power than they use that they may want to feed back to the B.E.L grid. We want to be able to compensate costumers for the energy they export back to grid. But we are also contemplating providing.


Fuller says these upgrades will serve to stabilize the cost of electricity in Belize and will come at no increased cost to customers.


Sean Fuller, General Manager, Commercial and Retail Service B.E.L

This is the plan that we have and it is immediate. We don’t want to wait any longer and we are hoping that once this study is finalized and we are in the final leg of getting this study completed and published we will share it with the regulator and the regulator will then be able to be in a very good position based on this study to determine what RFP’s need to go out immediately for the new renewable energy resources that we need to implement on the grid. This is not a medium or long term erection that we want, it is immediate. Whatever the study says that we want to put in now we will put in now, because we are at a point where our network is growing, our demand is growing and we want to be less reliant on the CEF supply and have the in country sources available to us so that we can ebself sufficient as we can.

Reporting for News Five I am Paul Lopez

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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