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Public Utilities Commission approves electricity rate increase but scolds Belize Electricity Limited

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Posted: Thursday, January 6, 2022. 1:44 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has reluctantly approved a rate increase from 39.9 cents per kilowatt-hour to 41.5 cents for January to June 2022.

But in a statement, the regulator bluntly questioned whether Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), a state-owned company, had done enough to obtain power from the most cost-effective sources in the last few months.

According to the Commission’s “Comments related to the Draft Decision” in two instances last September, BEL purchased power from a source that was more expensive than the least-expensive available source – in one case from BECOL as opposed to the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) in Mexico, and in the other from CFE as opposed to the domestic market. The decisions reportedly cost $2 million more in cost of power than if the reverse were true.

The PUC further accused BEL of “intentionally ignoring” requests for information that by law it is obligated to provide, such as cost of power figures for December. It has recommended a change in legislation to ensure all utility companies provide all necessary information or their submissions will be marked as non-submissions.

The PUC also warned in closing that it will disallow any request for a rate increase where BEL’s decisions are judged inconsistent with good utility practice.

The decision can be viewed at the PUC’s website or its office at Marina Towers, Belize City.

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