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Nov 22, 2022

The Public Utilities Commission – Regulating Electricity Rates

Today, the Public Utilities Commission of Belize held a media mixer at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel on the methodology of setting electricity rates.  For many, the P.U.C. is dormant and you only hear of its function when the utility companies apply for a change in prices and the commission then determines whether your water or electricity rates are going up or down. So today’s mixer was for the media to realise just how crowded the P.U.C.’s agenda is.  The regulator is autonomous and does not report to any ministry and makes annual reports to the National Assembly. Now, whatever the P.U.C. does, including the decision made, is guided by the Electricity Act, the Water Industry Act and the Telecommunications Act. In 1999, the Public Utilities Act was created giving the regulator the power to set tariffs, the quality of standards and issue licenses.  Disclosed in a presentation today was how much time per year on average you should be without electricity.


Ernesto Gomez

Ernesto Gomez, Director, Tariff Compliance and Standards, P.U.C.

“In an average, every customer of the country gets about thirteen outages a year. And if you accumulate ten, you have about seventeen hours a year, if you add them up. For example, if you are on the hospital feeder, you probably only get two or three outages a year because they protect that feeder to death. At an average, what we call the duration and the frequency are thirteen and seventeen. If we want to move that to be like ten and twelve, you know the investment that B.E.L. would have to do to get there. Do double circuits, put more generation – it is very expensive that would be too hard on the rate. So as a result, we have to carefully ask for a balance. We are asking for a quality, but if we ask for too much quality, it might be unaffordable. Our job is not just to accept. For example, we don’t just accept what we get from electricity or what we get from water. We are supposed to design and develop the product we want. We want an electricity that is twenty-four hours of service, we want to make sure that the people do not get more than twenty hours of blackout a year, we want the frequencies and the voltages to be stable. So we define the product and then the utility has to not only comply, but put in the infrastructure in place to be able to develop that product in that way. So whenever you see the rate, it is because we have checked all their components and all their investments, all their plans that we are sure that it’s going to be delivered in the same way we want.”

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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