BELPO Challenges Electricity Rate Hike

January 12, 2006

SEE Letter in MS Word format


Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy

P.O. Box 54, San Ignacio, Cayo District - Belize, Central America

Tel. (501) 804-2032 – Fax:  824-2685

email: or


FAXED:  227-1149

12 January 2006

Dr. Gilbert Canton,

Chairman, Public Utilities Commission

63 Regent Street 

P.O. Box 300, Belize City, Belize

RE:  Revocation of Electricity Rate Increase Decision

Dear Dr. Canton:

As a concerned Belizean and on behalf of many similarly concerned Belizean citizens and organizations, I write pursuant to Electricity Act sec. 13(6) and PUC Act Part VII sec. 32 and 33, to request that the PUC review and revoke its decision of 31  December 31, to grant an electricity rate increase to Belize Electricity Limited.

In reviewing this decision, I request that you send me (a) the Power Purchase agreements, and (b) the associated costs, upon which the decision was based.  I also request these documents are made available on the PUC website.

In particular, I request:

1. A copy of all the estimates provided by BEL for power costs from Chalillo and from Mollejon, including the applicable power purchase agreements with BECOL.

2. The total construction cost for the Chalillo project and a description of any cost overruns.

3. All other power costs and their associated power purchase agreements, referenced in your decision report of 31 December 2005.

You state in the decision that it was “anticipated...that there would be a greater mitigating effect from hydropower as a result of the Chalillo project thus reducing the dependence on the diesel generators, the gas turbine, and economic energy from CFE in the dry season. This is substantially different from what is now being projected as the realistic scenario.”

This appears to be a great distortion of the truth.  Many Belizeans and other experts advised the PUC that the Chalillo project would cause an increase in costs, NOT a decrease.  We deserve the truth.  We deserve to know how much this project has cost, and will cost; we have the right to know whether BEL and BECOL have renegotiated their power purchase agreements. These agreements cannot hide behind a veil of secrecy.

Section 9(5), SI 145, 2005, requires that within one day of filing, "all documents submitted by the licensee, or an interested party, or issued by the Commission, shall be made available to the public at the office of the Commission and at the principal office of the licensee" and I hereby request a copy of these documents. The only exception to this requirement is for "commercially sensitive" materials.  As a statutory monopoly, the information on BEL's costs is not "commercially sensitive" and must be made public.

Section 12(3), SI 145, 2005, states:  “Only such information as is commercially sensitive should be marked as confidential and, where only a portion of the document includes confidential information, an expurgated copy shall be filed with the full document.”  This information is not “commercially sensitive” and must be made public.

The PUC’s decision of 31 December 2005, to allow BEL another rate increase, added to the rate increase approved earlier in 2005, will place a greater burden on all of the people of Belize and violates the Electricity Act’s requirement of “reasonable” rates. 

It is a cruel joke that such a decision was taken while Belizeans were celebrating the holidays with their families.  This, too, is a patent violation of the PUC and Electricity Acts, in that the opportunity for public comment was so cynically dispensed with. 

The ELECTRICITY (TARIFFS, CHARGES AND QUALITY OF SERVICE STANDARDS) BYELAWS, 2005 (SI 145 of 2005) was Gazetted on 20 December 2005, which is the same day BEL applied for its rate review.  

According to this law, the Commission must give notice and invite comments from any person interested or affected by their orders, decisions or directives. 

Indeed, the PUC did give notice in the newspaper that came out on Friday, 23 December.  The notice stated that the PUC would issue its decision 15 days from the commencement of the review, which means 15 days from 20 December.  Interested parties were supposed to submit their comments by 30 December 2005, just 8 days from the date of publication, of which only three were working days (25, 26 and 27 December being national holidays)!  It is hard to accept that this timeframe was anything but a blatant attempt to discourage feedback.  In fact, it clearly demonstrates that feedback was not a priority for the PUC.  The predictable result, noted in the decision, is that no Belizeans commented.  

This process is a farce!  Therefore, I hereby register protest, on behalf of similarly concerned Belizean citizens and organizations. In the name of fairness, you must review and revoke your decision.




Candy Gonzalez, Vice President

Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy

P.O. Box 54,  San Ignacio, Cayo District,

Belize, Central America

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