AmbergrisCaye.com Home

What Will Be Belize’s Energy Future?

Posted By: Marty

What Will Be Belize’s Energy Future? - 01/10/14 09:45 AM

The Public Utilities Commission has put out what's known as a request for power: it's inviting companies to submit bids explaining how they would provide 75 megawatts of affordable energy to the Belize Electrical Grid. 44 Applications were sent into the PUC and today at BEL, the PUC had a pre-bidding meeting for those applicants. The bids won't be submitted until May 15th and today's meeting was to give them the lay of the land - explain how the process works. PUC Chairman John Avery explained:..

John Avery, Chairman, PUC
"This meeting is to clear up some of the questions and issues that potential bidders may have and after this meeting those concerns which need to be addressed, we will meet, we will address them and then we will have to issue new rules or new parameters for the RFP if necessary."

Jules Vasquez
"How many applications have been received?"

John Avery, Chairman, PUC
"We've had forty-four expressions of intent to bid. About twenty for solar, a couple for hydro and a mix of other sources including waste to energy, thermal....so we have quite a good mix of project proposals that we are expecting."

Jules Vasquez
"Would you explain that for me why you all put out the RFP?"

John Avery, Chairman, PUC
"Right now, we don't have enough capacity in the dry season in country to meet our demands. It should be the policy of any country to have energy security. So as you may have heard me mention, our first concern is to satisfy the demands for electricity services in Belize in the next ten to fifteen years. That is our major concern. The next thing is to keep prices down. We are hoping that we get enough hydro, enough renewable energy technology projects that will in fact displace some of the higher cost thermal energy we get from Mexico and even from Belize. We are hoping that with this, in the long term, we will have better security; much better security for energy and actually more stable and lower prices."

Jules Vasquez
"How much of an issue is that in developing hydroelectricity in Belize? The fact that Fortis as we understand it has pre-emptory rights on all the waterways in Belize."

John Avery, Chairman, PUC
"They have right of first refusal for all waterways except the upper Macal and the upper Macal is where they have their 3 plants right now; BECOL. For that any construction on any plant in between those 3 plants would require BECOL's consent which is reasonable, as long as it's not withheld unreasonably. However, there is an agreement with Fortis that gives them right of first refusal for all rivers in Belize in terms of hydro development. We don't believe that agreement is enforceable. We don't believe that it was an agreement signed by the former prime minister. We do not believe he has the right without going to the national assembly to give all such rights to one company for all the rivers in Belize and in fact, that agreement violates many laws in Belize. We have a Water Resource Management Authority in Belize right now who has ownership under that law of all waterways and all waters in Belize. So they dictate the rights for waterways in Belize. So it is contrary to the Electricity Act, to the PUC Act, to many things. So we do not believe that agreement for the rest of the rivers is enforceable."

As Avery noted, about half of the applications have been for wind and solar power. 15 of the 75 megawatts requested cover that area, and the meeting room at BEL today was standing room only with investors who want to develop that kind of energy. We spoke to one of the many developers proposing energy from wind:...

Boris Mansfeld, BZE Wind Energy
"The MOU that we got signed last year from the Cabinet for a feasibility study for a big wind project and we've completed our study and so we have a new project now that we want to get moving forward, it's a wind energy project and we also have a solar energy project."

Jules Vasquez
"Where would you put this? Is it a wind farm and how many megawatts would it generate?"

Boris Mansfeld, BZE Wind Energy
"The wind farm , the first phase would be about 30 megawatts and we did an extensive study throughout Belize on where to put the project and we narrow it down to a few sites and our main site would be the Baldy Beacon area."

Jules Vasquez
"You would put these wind turbines on Badly Beacon. How many of them would the proposal be for?"

Boris Mansfeld, BZE Wind Energy
"The first phase would be about 30 megawatts, so anywhere from 10 - 20 turbines."

Jules Vasquez
"Now wind energy, energy from wind turbines have received mixed reviews all over the world because some people say its A). Noisy, B). it's not a firm energy source and C). In the long term it's not a money making venture or its not feasible long term financially. How do you answer those criticisms?"

Boris Mansfeld, BZE Wind Energy
"I think long term the project is definitely feasible. We've done extensive studies on the availability if wind here and our partners have done several projects in Europe and Belgium and other places in Europe and they've been very successful. So wind energy is definitely a successful energy source and there is considerable land up at Baldy Beacon, there is good wind there and there are other good areas in Belize offshore and onshore that are very feasible."

Jules Vasquez
"How about the noise?"

Boris Mansfeld, BZE Wind Energy
"Wind does produce a little bit of noise, but I think the Baldy Beacon area as well as other areas in Belize are not heavily populated and I think there are good locations in Belize for wind power."

John Avery, Chairman, PUC
"This RFP, we are asking for 15 megawatts of that type of capacity; intermittent renewable energy capacity. However, those present stability regulation problems, they can come and go with a cloud cover; the wind may stop blowing. So you have to manage the amount of that you introduce to your system."

The bids will be submitted by May 15th, evaluated by August 18th and the contracts will be awarded by November 17, 2014.

Channel 7

© 2021 Ambergris Caye Belize Message Board