For five years the Government of Belize has been borrowing money in order to provide Belizeans an artificially low price for electricity, and now the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is asking the people to pay that money back. That was the message sent by the PUC at a public meeting held in San Pedro.
On March 2nd, the first in a series of meetings held by the PUC was held in San Pedro’s Town Hall. The presentation gave a historical perspective of the “Cost of Power” and how electricity production had been managed over the past five years. The PUC is seeking input to help determine policies that will impact the cost of electricity for the next tariff period.
It was acknowledged during the meeting the PUC has had to borrow money in order to stabilize electricity costs over the past five years. The last time the PUC went through this process, they predicted fuel prices would go down, in return lowering the cost of producing power. Instead, energy prices escalated, much of the blame was attributed to the September 11th attacks on the United States and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The other two major factors that forced the PUC to borrow even more money were Hurricanes Keith and Ivan. These events caused major damage to the power lines and without insurance; the PUC was forced to borrow more money to fix the system.
The end result is that now the PUC is about 7 million dollars in debt. Electricity rates must increase even if fuel prices go down to pay back these loans. In addition, the PUC seeks input on the practice of sustaining “Rate Stabilization Accounts.” For the past Tariff period two of these accounts were established, one to stabilize the cost of power to the consumer, the other to build a savings to use in case a hurricane damages the power supply infrastructure.
Information and documents can be downloaded from the PUC website: www.puc.bz. The PUC is seeking input from the public. The next scheduled public meeting is Saturday March 12th, 2005 at 2:00pm at the Baron Bliss Center.
Public Utilities Commission
63 Regent Street
P.O. Box: 300
Tel: (501) 227-1176 / 227-1185
Fax: (501) 227-1149