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Electricity woes to ease moving forward, says Minister of Public Utilities; CFE, gas turbine coming onstream

Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2024. 11:28 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize has been assured that electricity supply from Mexico’s Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) will stabilize starting no later than this weekend, according to Minister of Public Utilities, Logistics and E-Governance Michel Chebat.

Addressing the House of Representatives this morning, the Minister said outgoing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador personally gave this assurance in a meeting along with Prime Minister John Briceño a few weeks ago. Belize is also committed to receiving 25 megawatts more of electricity supply from CFE.

In the short-to-medium term, Chebat said, a new gas turbine promised for San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, which has been suffering crippling load shedding and power outages even this week, will be commissioned by mid-June, and adds 30 megawatts of available power to the 17.2 provided by the link to the Maskall sub-station. An expanded gas turbine at West Lake, Belize District, was commissioned earlier this month.

Funds from the World Bank will establish a battery program for electricity storage by 2025, and the Saudi Arabia-funded 60-megawatt triple solar plant is being fast-tracked for 2026, with more sources of solar and battery storage to be implemented from the private sector.

But Belize is also committed to greater energy independence and the increase of renewable sources of energy for the national grid, which Chebat says is expected to rise from 53 to 75 percent under the recently approved National Energy Plan. After reaching an all-time high of 127 megawatts of demand last week, that demand is expected to grow even further to 135 megawatts during summer, and up to 165 megawatts in future years. (By contrast, Mexico is adding 120 gigawatts of power to its grid, according to Chebat.) New regulations will allow ordinary Belizeans an opportunity to invest in solar power and sell back excess to the national grid, though the Belize Solar Industry Alliance (BSIA) has countered that publicly.

 

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