Light Bill Going Down!!! BEL Lifts Injunction Preventing PUC’s Rate Review Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 13 October 2011 00:00

The Belize Electricity Limited issued a press release stating that it has moved to lift the injunction granted by the Supreme Court, which prevented the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) from making any adjustments to electricity rates or take any regulatory action in relation to the 2008 PUC Final Tariff Decision. The injunction was granted by the Supreme Court in May of this year.

On Independence Day Prime Minister Barrow revealed that the Government-controlled Board of Directors, officially renounced Fortis’ demand for higher electricity rates. This was done after the board discovered a practice of wasteful capital spending and inflating asset base under the Fortis run company to justify “unwarranted rates of return”. This was long suspected by the Public Utilities Commission and thus the reason for a rejection in BEL’s request for rates increase. In fact, PUC wanted to reduce rates but could only do so in a tariff review procedure. Thus the reason for BEL’s application for an injunction preventing them from doing so.

Now that the injunction was lifted the PUC will be able to adjust electricity rates to reflect the current cost of power and other operational realities. Government’s negotiations with Mexico’s Commision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) has been going well and  according to the Mexican Ambassador to Belize, Mario Velasquez Suarez, there are three agreements on the table for BEL to sign which will see a 6% reduction in cost of power from CFE. PM Barrow said, “There will be no hike in your electricity bills. Not now, not ever  - under this administration. In fact, barring any emergencies, we actually expect to lower rates at the time of the next full tariff review. That is correct: light bills are going down!”

The Press release from BEL also revealed that the litigations have been costing the company millions of dollars - $4 million on the appeal of the 2008 PUC Tariff decision alone. Jeffrey Locke said, “We must direct our resources towards initiatives that will clearly enable us to meet our commitment to our customers, shareholders and staff."

The PUC is also in the in the process of withdrawing its legal action against BEL, relating to the utility pole rental charges levied by the company on cable and telephone operators.