Belize to brace for more power outages

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 27            July 16, 2009

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Several residents in San Pedro made plans last week when Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) announced a schedule of planned outages. Those planned outages were necessary to upgrade their distribution service on the island. But the unplanned happened and before midnight of Friday, there was a countrywide black-out that lasted for several hours. Power was lost at about 11:35 PM on Friday and according to BEL, it was due to a ground wire that broke away from a pole near Buena Vista Substation in the Corozal District which caused a fault in the transmission line between Mexico and Belize.

    But what happen to the backup systems? BEL claims that the Gas Turbine was out of service for maintenance for two weeks. That left BEL with the Belize Electric Company Limited and Belize Aquaculture Limited which took electricity longer than what it would have taken. It took between two to three hours before various municipalities and communities were restored. San Pedro Town was the last to be restored which occurred at about 4:50 on Saturday morning. Then by 6:00am all that area from Pescador Drive near the BEL Substation to the river mouth and all that area north of the river mouth to Tranquility were cut off as part of the planned outages. Those areas did not see power restored until 2:00pm.

    There were other outages all over the country, and according to BEL it was caused by bad weather. But the road ahead doesn’t look good and the best advice is to brace up. While Commission Federal de Electricidad (CFE) has been maintaining its supply of electricity to Belize with minimal interruptions despite their own power generation problems; they will take out one of their large generators for maintenance as of July 15th. What does this spell for Belize? Trouble, and perhaps more outages. BEL says that this can “worsen the current power supply situation,” a situation that is already described by BEL as “critical.” BEL stated that they will keep the public informed of any further development.
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