Will electricity go up in 2013? A definite maybe - 12/15/12 02:39 PM
Belize Electricity Limited (B.E.L.) is saying that the acquisition cost of electricity is going up but will it be reflected in your light bills? To answer that question, we spoke to B.E.L. today. They explained that currently the hydro dams are below operational levels and there is also a weak production of electricity from BELCOGEN since bagasse supplies have run out. The situation is compounded because the cost of purchasing electricity from Mexico has also increased. Though B.E.L. was operating on a reduction plan to return thirty million dollars owed to consumers over the next four years, the Senior Manager for the company now says, that the increased cost of supply has just about covered the monies owed to consumers in one year, rather than the forecasted four years.
“People want to know; will their electricity bills go up?”
Ernesto Gomez, Senior Manager, Energy Supply
“I cannot tell you that. The reason is because that is an answer that the P.U.C. should be the one addressing. All that we are doing is that we are informing the public through the press release that we are complying with the law which requires that we submit our data of our actual energy consumption so that the P.U.C. can compare it with what they approved on the last tariff review that they did. Now, they may or may not look at an adjustment to the approved tariff. That is their prerogative so we are not in any way making any requests to the P.U.C.”
“Mister Gomez, there has been an increase to the acquisition cost of power for B.E.L. What are those things that caused the increase?”
“That’s a good question. The Mexican power started to rise; creep up slowly throughout the months basically because they are suffering from the same problem like us—they don’t have any water—and they are suffering some natural gas problems. Natural gas is their cheapest source of energy. So by having problems with that, they have to use more expensive energies such as diesel and heavy fuel oils. So that caused the Mexican price to creep up. But we were handling pretty well with the compensating use of water and bagasse from BELCOGEN up to July when the rainy season should have started, but never did. As a result we were unable to get the planned volume of energy from the hydros and from BELCOGEN and we were forced to replace it with the higher cost of power from Mexico. So as a result, the average price that went into our grid was much higher than what we had planned.”
“B.E.L. does owe consumers about thirty million dollars. How does that thirty million dollars factor into what you are applying for in the proposed adjustments?”
“Well that’s going to work out very well on behalf of the consumers. What happen is that on the full tariff review that the P.U.C. asked us to implement the first of February, they calculated that from 2008 to that point that there was still a balance inside the rate and spread it in four years—that B.E.L. would pay it back little by little, discounting a little bit on the rate, over four years. But since we have now a difference, a large difference, between the actual cost of power and what the P.U.C. had regulated as to be the cost of power, we are asking the P.U.C. to consider that as if we had paid that correction up front rather than spreading it in four years; which means that then the P.U.C. would not need to make a correction for B.E.L. to continue recovering that. It will take away that part of the bill as such.”
“This will last for about a year?”
“Well, if you consider it from the first of February to present, it’s eleven months more or less—eleven to ten months that I could say we would have fully paid back that money to the public.”
So it’s up to the Public Utilities Commission to decide whether or not it accepts B.E.L.’s submission that the thirty million dollars has dried up and if consumers will get licked with a rate increase in 2013.