BEL has made its submission to the Public Utilities Commission for a Full Tariff Review Proceeding. It's a highly technical process, but the bottom line for you the consumer is that BEL has proposed a 3.4% decrease in rates.
And while that's what they propose, the PUC today held a press conference to announce that - it could be less, more or none at all, because everything BEL proposes is subject to their stringent review:
Leroy Almendarez, Economist/Tariff Analyst - PUC
"This is their submission to the Public Utilities Commission, that's as far as it goes. We have to go through the whole process of analysis of data and things like that. As a matter of fact let me just emphasize this, this is the review team; all 4 of us, we will be doing the analysis and making a recommendation to the commission. The commission will be making a decision."
"When we put the data through the methodology and after all our analysis it might not show the 3.4% but we cannot make that determination now, that determination will be made after we've gone through the process and done all our analysis. That is what they are saying; the 3% reduction on average will keep them viable and they will be able to meet their investments. That's what they are saying."
"All this is just in the air. All consumers want to know is that these people are applying for 3.4% and that they will get at least that. People want definitive answers and people want a break."
"If we were to give any definitive answer now then there is no need for the analysis, there is really no need for the process and that stains the process. We plan to go through this process, we plan to do it as thoroughly as we are going to interrogate and as Mr. Lewis mention as diligently as possible when we make our recommendations."
C. Victor Lewis - PUC
"It would be wrong to attempt to do otherwise. It would be a fallacy to attempt to do otherwise and let me say that we are engineers."
But while the engineers, apparently, will have their way, the public must have its say, and the public consultation is an important part of the review exercise.
A public hearing will be held at the Princess on December 21st at the Princess Hotel at 7:00 - where the you are encouraged to come out and tell the PUC how you feel about the proposed rate - whether its too little or just enough - or to speak about BEL's service in general.
A release from BEL says the company's proposal for a lower Mean Electricity Rate is made possible by the improvements in the Company's operations and management.
It adds that since the takeover, BEL's cash flow position has improved and the Company has not had to make any further request to the Government of Belize for electricity pre-payments.