Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2018. 3:53 p.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: At a time when the cost of living continues to rise, Belizeans could be looking at higher light bills, following Belize Electricity Limited’s (BEL) submission to the Public Utilities Commission for a rate increase.
BEL made the submission on March 31, which is the legally mandated 90-day period before any new rate change would be introduced. The submission calls for a 7.1% average increase in the Mean Electricity Rate (MER) to 39.54 cents per Kilowatt hour (kWh), from the current MER of $36.92 cents per kWh, to offset the rising cost of power that BEL buys from producers.
“During the 2016 – 2017 rate review period, the actual cost of power was $3.8 million higher than the Reference Cost of Power approved by the PUC. Over this period, the Company financed this difference whilst it worked to control these costs,” BEL explained.
The company added that the latest projections indicate that power may be as much as $4.8 million higher than what was approved by the PUC for the 2017 – 2018 review period.
Ambrose Tillett, the Director of Electricity at the PUC, said that while BEL committed to a fixed rate for electricity from 2016 to 2020, the PUC will factor the global rise in energy costs into its decision making. The PUC, which has the last say with regards to any rate increase, is mandated by law to issue an initial decision on BEL’s submission within 30 days. He noted that the price of oil on the world market is the major issue driving up energy costs.
“In 2016 when the PUC set the reference rate for power, the price of a barrel of oil was around $45, now it’s around $70,” Tillett said.
Breaking Belize News has confirmed that PUC Chairman, John Avery has already seen the submission, but was unavailable for comment. BBN will keep following the story as the PUC makes its determination.
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