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Jun 4, 2008

B.E.L. outages punish Belize District

Story PictureBelize Electricity Limited continues to have major problems satisfying the nation’s need for dependable power. The latest fiasco resulted in a blackout that had part of the Belize City north side along with the first twenty-five miles of both the Western and Northern highways in the dark from eight-thirty this morning until four in the afternoon. According to B.E.L., due to the saturation of the low lying ground near the Westlake substation at mile eight on the Western Highway, several power poles of the one hundred and fifteen kilovolt transmission line began to lean dangerously close to the twenty-two kilovolt lines that supply current to three feeders in the Belize District. Efforts to install new guy wires from the poles manually proved futile as the ground was too soft to hold the anchors and heavy equipment could not get into the swampy area. Power was restored only by isolating the one hundred fifteen kilovolt line and in effect splitting the national grid in two, with Mexico supplying the north and Chalillo and Mollejon feeding the south and central regions of the country. B.E.L. warns that when work continues to permanently fix the pole problem tomorrow more outages may be necessary. B.E.L. is in the midst of an acrimonious dialogue with the Public Utilities Commission over an application to raise electricity rates.

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