But what can Belizeans expect in terms of electricity rates for 2011? Well, that is still up in the air, according to Young, because there are many factors that have bearing on electricity rates, including the skyrocketing diesel prices and an increase in taxes. But if the local supply from the hydro dams and the bagasse plant at Tower Hill in Orange Walk improve to full capacity, then prices are likely to remain the same.
“The one thing that is going to affect us has been the increase in taxes. Our taxes have been increased by ten million dollars a year last year and I think there’s going to have to be an adjustment in rates to deal with that but I think if the government can get some lower costs from CFE and if the bagasse performs the way we hope it would, that might offset the increases in taxes that we have been paying and maybe we’ll be able to keep the rates – at least try to keep it where it is right now. Right now the rates are frozen because the courts put an injunction to stop any changes in rates until it has reviewed the 2008 decision. We went to court over that, the hearings have been completed and we’re awaiting a decision from the court on that. Once the court has made a ruling then we will have to go back and make an application for rates. Like I said, without the taxes, rates won’t be going up next year, but with ten million dollars additional taxes, definitely – and it’s not that we want to increase rates but we can’t get the banks to lend us money unless we can show that we’re making a reasonable return. Not only the taxes have increased but the license from all the different municipalities have been increasing their license fees and their business license, in some cases it has tripled so the inflation that’s there, which is driven by the taxes and the increasing oil prices and all that is putting a lot of pressure on not just BEL but everybody. Like I said, the best we can do might be not to have to ask for a rate increase in 2011.”
The court ruling is expected by the end of January, 2011.