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#372721 - 04/07/10 03:29 PM PUC Explains Reason for 12.1% Hike in Water Rates
Marty Online   happy

New water rates went into effect on Thursday – and by the time your next bill arrives, you should see an increase of about 12.1% - which means if your bill was $100.00 with the same consumption, it will be $112. The PUC agreed the 12.1% average increase after BWSL asked for a 24% increase. Today the PUC explained how it moderated BWSL’s needs against the needs of consumers.

Jim McFadzean Reporting,
A deteriorating infrastructure, maintaining BWSL’s viability and the PUC reaching out to the small shareholders of a major utility company - those were three of the main reasons for the 12.1% increase granted the Belize Water Services Limited, which took effect the first of this month. And so come the next billing period, consumers should expect to see a jump in their monthly water bill.

Leroy Almendarez, Director of Admin and Tariffs
“It is not a 12.1 cent increase on the dollar, it is basically based on what your consumption level is since it is applied across all bands. There are several things we have to look out because we must balance the interests of all stakeholders. The viability of the utility provider is also important.”

The PUC says the measured increase comes after a revised look at what the commission felt was the minimum investment capital needed by BWSL to address those critical expansion and necessary maintenance needed to ensure the effective and reliable distribution of water and sewerage services to its consumers.

Leroy Almendarez,
“The expansion is not concentrated in any one district. It addresses from Corozal to Toledo. If we were to approve any capital expenditure greater than that then it would have meant an increase more than the 12.1%.”

Eugene Cleland, Director of Water and Waste
“BWSL has not been doing any maintenance lately, primarily because of cash flow constraints. So the commission made a conscious decision to approve a significant portion of the investment which is for improvements to the existing infrastructure, putting in reservoirs to improve pressure and improve infrastructure to reduce losses.”

A BWSL representative told us that the commission’s decision will greatly limit its ability to expand its infrastructure making it unable to respond effectively in natural disaster situations such as hurricanes. Almendarez says the commission had to take into consideration BWSL’s financing options.

Leroy Almendarez,
“Based on the economic situation that presently exists, we figured by adopting or by approving that 40.45 because it comes with a rate of return, by adopting that it gives them a level of financial ability that they will be able to finance their operations etc. equitable and that is surely saying that it is somehow dependent on the internal operations. They can still get external funding but we do not want that to be the restricting factor.”

BWSL’s increased rates come amidst a global recession and the GST hike. But it’s not all bad news says the PUC.

Eugene Cleland,
“You have fees like reconnection fee, transfer fee, water connection fees. Those fees never did change. And so in deliberating our decision and to further expounding on what Leroy said to the gentleman there, the commission decided not to increase these fees. So we didn’t touch these fees at all.”

The commission also approved $40 million in investments to be applied over the full tariff period. PUC will review BWSL’s performance annually and make any necessary adjustments.

Channel 7

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#372722 - 04/07/10 03:30 PM Re: PUC Explains Reason for 12.1% Hike in Water Rates [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

PUC EXPLAINS DECISION TO INCREASE WATER RATE BY 12.1%

April 06, 2010

Last October Belize Water Services Limited made an application to the Public Utilities Commission for a 25 percent increase in rates. In November the PUC approved a 10 point 6 percent increase. BWS objected to the approved increase and an independent expert was brought in. The independent expert recommended a 17 percent increase. On March 30th, the Public Utilities Commission issued its final decision and approved a 12 point one percent increase. Today the PUC explained its decision. Leroy Almendarez is the Director of Administrations and Tariffs.

Leroy Almendarez; Director, of Administrations and Tariffs

“The approved rate increase is 12.1% with no changes to any of the current fees and charges. The commission also approved $40,453,000 in investments to be applied over the full tariff period. BWSL has been provided with further details of the investments and expenditures approved by the commission. The commission will review BWSL’s performance over the FTP against the approved perimeters and will make any necessary adjustments to the approved business plan and approved tariffs, fees and charges at annual review proceedings that will be held throughout the FTP. The commission also approved that amendments to the final decision order may be made during the ATP to include tariffs and newly commissioned systems. One of these systems in Caye Caulker; and example of this is the imminent commissioning of the Caye Caulker water system. That system is scheduled to begin operations later this month or May and the commission has begun a process to determine rates, charges and fees for the operation of that system. The commission has determined preliminary rates, charges and fees for the operation of the system and intends to consult with interested parties before making a final decision for the Caye Caulker water system tariffs. That final decision on Caye Caulker water tariffs will form a part of an amended final decision at the 2009 full tariff proceeding or BWSL.”

The 12.1% increase will be charged on the customers’ consumption across the board but current fees and charges remain the same. The new charges are effective from April 1st, 2010 and will run through to March 31st, 2015, with the PUC holding Annual Review Proceedings.

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