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Electricity rates going down – Belize Electricity Limited accepts average rate reduction amid COVID reality

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Posted: Friday, October 30, 2020. 4:20 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) delivered some good news on Thursday with its announcement of an average rate reduction of 2.9 percent starting next January, from 41.51 cents per kilowatt-hour to 40.18 cents from January 2021 to June 2024.

The power provider, Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), says it accepts the decision of the regulator, but presented commentary of its actions in seeking higher rates during the Full Tariff Review Procedure (FTRP), which began in January.

In January, BEL sought rates of 45.33 cents per kilowatt-hour as a means of recovering revenue shortfall of $50 million because of the higher cost of power in 2018 but the initial decision in March deferred consideration of critical investments over its objection – namely utility-scale solar generation and smart-grid infrastructure that would result in cost savings for customers.

The proceedings were stayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in July this year BEL asked to resume the Proceeding and submit an update rate proposal, taking note of reduction in prices for energy from CFE (Mexico) between April and July caused by lower fuel prices on the world market.

BEL says the PUC refused and “proceeded with an Independent Expert (IE) review of our original submission and objections”. The results of the Independent Expert’s review, says BEL, “were substantially favorable to BEL, with the expert recommending that our critical investments are allowed in the cost recovery over the next four years”.

In the end, the company says, the reduction is in line with its own assessment, but to keep prices low, it needs “increased investments in local, renewable energy production, smart-grid technology and evolving energy services to further develop the market for clean and sustainable electricity. 

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