Public outrage over power outages

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 18, No. 22            May 29, 2008

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It is the quote that remains in all Belizeans minds. And, the second or minute that the electricity falters, it is the quote that all Belizeans remember. “I am saying to you tonight that regulatory issues must now be resolved and electricity prices must be increased to reflect the true cost of power before Fortis will make any additional investment in BEL (Belize Electricity Limited). We will not do this time what we did back in 2006. And I will also highlight for you the gravity of the situation, that if this is not done, BEL will not have the cash to purchase power from Mexico in the coming months. Without power from Mexico, BEL will be forced into rotating blackouts. Immediate action is required. I cannot understate the seriousness of this situation.” - Stan Marshall, CEO – Fortis.

    The statement, which many view as a threat was stated on the May 20th, 2008 at the Annual General Meeting held at the Biltmore Plaza. Of course it got everyone’s attention, however, BEL has remained in everyone’s minds as soon as the first black out occurred over the weekend. The blackout continued all weekend long and many were countrywide.

    However, BEL issued a press release stating that the power outages on Sunday morning in parts of the Cayo District were as a result of a traffic accident. And then on Monday evening, there was a countrywide blackout that the outage was as a cause of their power partners in Mexico Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) who had a damaged switch on the transmission line – and that caused the outage. Using local power sources, power was restored to all areas by 6:15 pm.

    Another countrywide blackout, just after 5:00 Tuesday morning was caused again, as BEL stated, by CFE – but this time it was an auto transformer fault at their end. Belize City got back power before 6:00, Orange Walk just before 7:00 and Corozal by 8:00.

    Power outages or trips kept occurring during the next days and this had people wondering if it indeed was BEL living up to what they had said. BEL insists that the timing is coincidental and that they are not doing that. Vonetta Burrell of BEL told The San Pedro Sun that any person that might have suffered electrical damage to their appliances should contact 0-800-BEL-CARE to make a report.
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