Fortis Profits at the Expense of Belizeans
Fortis Inc. is the owner of both the energy distribution company in Belize (Belize Electricity Limited, BEL) and the largest energy supplier in the country (Belize Electricity Company, BECOL). Between Fortis-BEL and Fortis-BECOL, Fortis companies generate 48% of the electricity sold in Belize, with the rest coming from a connection to the power grid in Mexico.
The monopoly control Fortis exerts in Belize allows it to charge Belizeans the highest prices for electricity in all of Central America, and many times higher than prices charged by Fortis companies in Canada.
Fortis’ profit in Belize is also far higher than profit from its operations in Canada: at least four times higher per kilowatt hour of electricity sold.
Fortis-BECOL’s plan to build the Chalillo dam, upstream from the existing dam it owns on the Macal River, would allow Fortis-BECOL to more than double its earnings, and places all the risk on the people of Belize. The price of electricity from the new project is higher than the price from the existing dam, which is already the most expensive off-peak energy Belizeans purchase.
Fortis Gouges Belizean Customers
Fortis-BEL and Fortis-BECOL reported record earnings for the year 2001—far higher for the amount of electricity sold than any other Fortis company. The table below shows profits in Belize compared to Fortis companies in Canada, showing that Fortis’ profit in Belize is at least 4 times higher than in Canada.
Fortis profit in Belize is many times higher than in Canada:
New Dam Doubles Cost to Belizeans
The plan to build the Chalillo dam involves a new contract between Fortis-BECOL, Fortis-BEL and the government of Belize. This “Third Master Agreement” more than doubles payments to Fortis-BECOL from $274 million to $548 million US<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> over more than 50 years.
Anatomy of the Deal:
The new contract for the dams harms Belizean consumers, and ensures Fortis’ high profits in numerous ways:
BACONGO lawsuit forces the release of the "Third Master Agreement"--secret contract between Fortis and Belize Government. Download here (8Mb pdf).
Other electricity generation options: eight bids submitted on May 15, 2002, by independent power producers to BEL. Download copy of bids here (756 Kb pdf).
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> All calculations are in real (inflation adjusted) terms, with an inflation rate of 1.5%, as specified by BEL’s “Request for Proposals” document for non-oil and gas generation projects. This also matches the price increases under the power purchase agreements. Figures are therefore in 2002 US dollars.
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