BELPO Challenges Electricity Rate Hike

SEE BELPO's January 12, 2006 letter in web or MS Word format
BELPO's January 30, 2006 letter in web or MS Word format
BELPO's April 19, 2006 letter in web or MS Word format


April 19, 2006 (from the Star Newspaper)

On Wednesday, April 19, the Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO) requested both information and clarity from the Public Utilities Commission.

Belize Electricity Ltd submitted an application for a change in their current tariff structure on March 31. We were told that BEL was not asking for a rate increase, not now at least.

But, we were warned that we should brace ourselves for future rate increases. And then BEL announced they were planning " invest over $177 million in projects to improve and extend service over the next five years.” Will a change in the tariff structure allow BEL to automatically get rate increases, regardless of what they invest in? We don’t know. And it is because we don’t know that we filed an Objection to Application for Annual Review Proceeding.

Our request for information related to the January 1, 2006 rate increase has been ignored; we have not gotten any information from the PUC that explains how they justified their approval of that rate increase.

Now BEL has submitted an application to the PUC to change the current tariff structure. What is the meaning of this application or its possible repercussions on ratepayers in the future? Does it have to do with BEL’s stated intention to upgrade? Does this include plans to build a third dam on the Macal River, the Vaca Dam?? What are the projects? What are the costs? We are still in the dark over the true cost of the Chalillo Dam.

In our 30 January letter, we reminded the PUC, (and it is worth repeating) that, “It shall be the duty of the Public Utilities Commission to ensure that the services rendered by a public utility … are satisfactory and that the charges imposed in respect of those services are reasonable.” PUC Act, Part V, section 22(1). The fundamental principle of the PUC Act is that public utility rates shall be fair and reasonable.” Part III, section 11(1).

/s/Candy Gonzalez

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