Caye Caulker’s growth has resulted in an increase in demand for power. Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) intends to leave behind diesel generated power and bring the island onto the national grid. BEL conducted a feasibility study to confirm the economic and social benefits of the project which will cost the utility company fifteen million dollars when implemented. Earlier today, BEL invited the media to tour the proposed locations at the south end of Ambergris Caye and the north end of Caye Caulker where the cable would be submerged on the seabed. Love News spoke to Kevin Petzold, BEL’s Project manager about the viability of the project and the possible impact it would have on the environment.
Jose Sanchez: “BEL has completed a study regarding the installation of a Submarine cable to connect Caye Caulker to the National Electricity Grid. The cable would be buried in the sea bed between Caye Caulker and San Pedro where it will be connected to the Bomba Grid.”
Kevin Petzold, BEL’s Project manager: “The project as they say is to add Caye Caulker to the grid so the project will start from the southern tip of San Pedro and go across the Hol Chan Marine Reserve which is six miles and land on the northern island of Caye Caulker. The preferred route is the south of the forest reserve. At that point it goes underground until it reaches the split and then it goes under the split and then from there it goes to the existing Generating Station which will then become a substation. The growth of Caye Caulker in terms of tourism, the general growth and also it is not sustainable to keep the generators running to provide the kind of supply that Caye Caulker would need so it is planning for the future and also taking the environment into consideration. I think we were successful in San Pedro and we would like to see the same level of success for Caye Caulker where the outage has reduced dramatically over the last few years. The line itself, the submarine cable has not experienced any issues for over 20 years.”
Jose Sanchez: “What is the cause of this project and where does the funding come from?”
Kevin Petzold, BEL’s Project manager: “We are at the early stage because we are currently in the public consultation period for the ESIA with the DOE so we are in the preliminary stages and in terms of costing and design a rough figure is about $15 million Bz.”
Jose Sanchez:“And the funding?”
Kevin Petzold, BEL’s Project manager: “The funding we are currently in discussion with the Caribbean Development Bank.”
Jose Sanchez: “An environmental and social impact assessment report was submitted as part of the study to the Department of Environment for review. BEL says that it will be able to handle the growth on the island and have less blackouts while reducing generator noises.”
Kevin Petzold, BEL’s Project manager: “We have been in very close consultation with the Hol Chan Marine Office and they have joined us in going into the field and putting in their part in terms of the project so their input has been heavily considered and they are going along the journey with us in terms of the design. In terms of the environment in the report, it speaks to mitigating during the construction period so for example while laying the cable is probably the key period in terms of impact to the environment and we have had different proposals like using screens or burying the cable 1.5 meters depending on the depth of the sand to protect against the electromagnetic field. There wouldn’t be any more transportation of fuel for example and then the risk that goes along with that in the event that there is a spill while transporting so all the cost is taken into consideration in an ESIA report and clearly having something like what San Pedro enjoys which is a similar submarine cable is big benefit to them. We have multiple sources so what it really is, is it provides the opportunity for you to enjoy the lowest cost that would be possible. Without the connection you are limited to what is there in Caye Caulker, with the connection you can enjoy the lowest cost from whatever service we have available.”
Reporter: “ Was renewable energy ever and option with this project?”
Kevin Petzold, BEL’s Project manager: “This project is not in competition with renewable energy. This is to enhance any future renewable energy solution. As it is a Belizeans enjoys almost 60% renewable energy from the Hydro and the Biomass so this is really extending renewable to Caye Caulker now and later on if anything comes up then the possibility of sharing that as well would be possible because we now have a connection.”
Jose Sanchez: “But will it result in lower electricity bills?”
Kevin Petzold, BEL’s Project manager: “This is something that we had committed to do in the past and it was already taken into consideration into our rates however PUC is the one that makes the determination of the rates but would you believe that the cost would reduce going from generation to connecting so it is just a matter of actually crunching the numbers as I have said we are in the process of doing.
Jose Sanchez for Love News.”
A public consultation on the ESIA Report will be held at 6:30pm on Thursday, March 21, 2019 at the Caye Caulker Roman Catholic Primary School.
Submarine Salvation For Dirty Diesel On Caye Caulker
No matter where you are watching this tonight, your electricity is probably coming form BEL's national power grid. That is, of course, unless you are in Caye Caulker - where, if you listen hard enough, you can probably hear the thrum and whistle of diesel generators laboring into the night. The growing island is still not connected to the national grid - but an ambitious new BEL project hopes to change that. Jules Vasquez found out more today:
Jules Vasquez reporting
The brilliant sapphire waters on the leeward, or western side of Caye Caulker seem completely unspoilt and, to the east, the windward side, is bordered by the spectacular barrier reef.
And while they frame to Caye Caulker's matchless natural beauty, and lay eh scene for an emergent tourist mecca
La Isla Carinosa has a dirty secret. All the power on the island comes from decades old diesel generators, a costly, noisy and non renewable source of energy. It's causing air and noise pollution on the island, and one year ago, the PUC told them to end it, quickly:
May 07, 2018 John Avery - Chairman, PUC "Caye Caulker is currently isolated from the grid, which means that 100% of the power comes from fossil fuel and we've been spending over $3 million dollars a year on diesel for Caye Caulker alone. That helps no one. BEL cannot make any mark up on that and that is the most expensive source of power in the country. Actually, we are just throwing money into these diesel trucks that come in and continue to operate Caye Caulker on diesel."
And, now, BEL is throwing its money - 15 million dollars - behind a project to end that diesel dependency on Caye Caulker.
This morning, the company took the media to San Pedro where they explained the proposed project
And toured the area where they will run a submarine cable six miles from the tip of Southern San Pedro to Northern Caye Caulker.
Kevin Petzold, Project Manager "It's not sustainable to keep the generators running to provide the kind of supply that Caye Caulker will need. So its planning for the future and also taking environment into consideration."
The route would traverse the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. And also the sweet spots for recreational fishers and lobster fishers:
Reporter "What precautions are taken to ensure that the marine environment, especially the Hol Chan Reserve is not affected?"
Kevin Petzold, Project Manager, BEL "Well BEL is being very responsible in that manner. In fact, that's probably one of the key things, we have been in very close consultation with the Hol Chan Marine office. Their input has been heavily considered and they are going along the journey with us in terms of the design."
But what islanders on Caye Caulker want most is a reliable power supply:
Reporter "Are you able to convince the residents that the sub-marine cable will be impervious and immune from small exogenous events?"
Kevin Petzold, Project Manager, BEL "I hope that we can. We are trying our best to do that. I think we were successful in San Pedro and we'd like to see the same level of success for Caye Caulker, where the outage has reduced dramatically over the last few years. The line itself has not experience any issue for over 20 years."
That San Pedro submarine cable, laid in 1998 comes 16 miles across from Bomba on the mainland and comes aground here on south Ambergris Caye:
Kevin Petzold "Clearly having something like what San Pedro enjoys which is similar sub-marine cable, is big benefit to them."
Now, BEL is having its first public consultation next week to make that pitch to Hicaquenos:
Kevin Petzold "We have been extensively communicating with stakeholders including the residents. We have held many forums, one on one with the residents and we don't see no significant concern. The residents seem to have faith in BEL's being responsible."
So, while that public consultation on the environmental and Social Impact Assessment will be held next week Thursday night at 6:30 in the village, BEL says it has been consulting with the village council and residents since 2019.
Again, the 15 million dollars project is pending environmental approval, and after that BEL will seek funding from the CDB.
Is Submarine Solution the Least Cost Alternative?
But, coming back to the point raised by the PUC, will it make BEL more efficient in utilizing the most efficient power source? Meaning, will this submarine cable lower the cost of power? That's what we asked today:
Reporter "Is this a lower cost of power than the present diesel generation solution?"
Kevin Petzold "Well the cost of power is a tricky topic, because we have multiple sources. So what it really is, is provides the opportunity for you to enjoy any lowest cost that would be possible, but we do believe that the cost will reduce going from generation to connecting to the grid."
Belize Electricity Limited to connect Caye Caulker to the National Grid
On Thursday, March 14th Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) took the Belizean Media Corps on a tour of the submarine cable route that is expected to connect Caye Caulker to the national electricity grid. The media tour served to inform the different media entities of the proposed connection route as well as the process of the project to share with their readers and viewers. The group of media corps and BEL members departed from The Office Bar & Restaurant located in San Pedro Town at 9AM.
Their first stop was at ‘Point 1’, the ‘Existing Cable Landing’ located at the back of Ambergris Caye, where the island’s electricity grid is directly connected to the national grid. After that, the team moved to ‘Point 2’, the ‘Headline Cable,’ which is the proposed takeoff for Caye Caulker submarine cable to the island. The submarine cables will then pass through ‘Point 3’, the ‘Northern Tip of Caye Caulker’ and ‘Point 4’, ‘South of Caye Caulker Forest Reserve.’ It is then expected to pass by ‘Point 5’, near the split in Caye Caulker and end at the ‘Point 6’, BEL Substation compound located at the back of the island.
After the tour, BEL Project Manager Kevin Petzold addressed the media. “This project was necessary because of the growth of Caye Caulker in the recent years due to tourism. As well, it is not sustainable to keep them on a generator as it may not sustain the capacity,” he said. Petzold further added that from an environmental standpoint it would have a positive impact.
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun
Re: Connecting Caye Caulker to the Grid
#535487 03/21/1910:19 AM03/21/1910:19 AM
BEL invites Caye Caulker residents to a Public Consultation on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report on plans to connect Caye Caulker to the national electricity grid - 6:30 p.m. tonight, March 21 at Caye Caulker R.C. Primary School.
Re: Connecting Caye Caulker to the Grid
#535515 03/23/1906:16 AM03/23/1906:16 AM