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Dec 18, 2009

BELCOGEN ready to power up B.E.L. and the country

Story PictureThe Belize Cogeneration Energy Limited, or BELCOGEN for short, will begin providing power supply shortly. The sixty three million US dollar-investment took over two years to materialize. Its capacity will be to produce thirty megawatts of power. Twenty five megawatts of that will be sold directly to the Belize Electricity Limited. This represents twenty percent of Belize’s national grid. The remainder will be for use at the BSI factory. Marion Ali has a report on how the new power plant will ease Belize’s reliance on Mexico.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The Belize Cogeneration Energy Project will kick off on January first, 2010. The renewable energy co-generation power plant will be selling energy to B.E.L. at rates comparative to Mexico and will also be supplying the energy demands of the Belize Sugar Industries Limited.

Richard Harris, Dir., Business Dev., BELCOGEN
“Our aim is to have as stable a pricing as possible because we are using renewable energy. We do have to use some heavy fuel oil as well, so there is a fuel oil component to the energy we provide but ninety-two percent of the total energy we provide is from renewable sources.”

Richard Harris is BELCOGEN’s Business Development Director. He says the method being used to produce the energy is safe.

Richard Harris
“Basically taking bagasse, burning it in the boiler which creates heat which heats up water to produce steam and that’s high pressure steam that then drives turbines which then, with the generators produce electricity. What we’ve done is to install modern, higher temperature, higher pressure units in a separate facility that is run according to the national grid code. We’re a carbon-neutral project so we are able to make greenhouse gas savings if you were to look at the grid as a whole. In terms of the standards that we operate at, we comply with the World Bank standards which are significant and stringent standards in terms of air emissions, water; those sorts of things.”

But the project took some pretty pennies to come to fruition. John Gillett who is the Factory Manager at BELCOGEN’s parent company, Belize Sugar Industries, says the investment is a clear indication of a serious commitment to Belize.

John Gillett, Factory Mgr., BSI
“BELCOGEN as a matter of fact took the better part of two years or maybe just a little over two years. It’s a big project; it’s one of the biggest projects that has ever been taken on in Belize.”

David Madrid, CEO, Cane Farmers’ Assn.
“That BSI is willing to invest over a hundred million dollars, that should tell the rest of the world that sugar is here to stay, that we’re ready to compete, we’re ready to increase our production, and with Fair Trade helping us, the EU helping us and BELCOGEN helping us, I think we can be very successful.”

The energy producing plant will not make Belize independent of Mexico, but Harris says the company will be able to grow along with the country’s demands.

Richard Harris
“It improves Belize’s self-sufficiency in terms of its own energy generation and as such it also improves the foreign exchange balance as well because we get paid in Belize dollars. We don’t get paid like the Mexicans do in US dollars so there’s a significant benefit for the country there if we substitute with them.”

Marion Ali for News Five.

BELCOGEN is looking at a twelve percent return annually on their investment. It hires close to sixty people.

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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