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Lower Light Bills... AGAIN! Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Willaims   
Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00

On July 1st, Belizeans will benefit from another decrease in electricity rates. The exact rate reduction is not final as yet but it is certain that the Mean Electricity Rate (MER) will once again be lower than it was at the time of the nationalization of the Belize Electricity Limited (B.E.L.).

On April 1st of this year, B.E.L. submitted an application to the Public Utilities Commission (P.U.C.) for an Annual Tariff Review Proceedings (ARP) covering the period July 1st, 2014 to June 30th, 2015. In its application B.E.L. proposed a reduction in the Mean Electricity Rate from 44.65 cents to 43 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). This is the third consecutive tariff review proceedings in which the company has proposed a rate reduction.

The P.U.C. reviewed B.E.L.’s proposal and made some adjustments. According to John Avery, Chairman of the P.U.C., “B.E.L. proposed a substantial increase in approved Operational Expenditure which the Commission does not see necessary at this time.” The P.U.C. also approved less for assets addition to the Regulated Assets Value than was proposed by B.E.L. Avery says the company proposed certain investments that are not necessary under this tariff period. Despite the fact that the P.U.C. rejected B.E.L.’s proposed increase in Operational Expenditure and reduced the amount of proposed assets addition, the Commission’s methodology resulted in a necessary Mean Electricity Rate that is higher than that proposed by B.E.L. The P.U.C. has approved a MER of 43.47 cents per kilowatt hour.

Avery says, “I can’t tell you the exact reason why B.E.L. came up with forty-three cents… We apply our methodology consistently as we do every time and we came up with forty-three point four-seven.” He says the difference could be that the company makes it calculations based on a more long term projection while the Commission must make a decision based on forecasts within the tariff review period. The P.U.C. says though it has not made any adjustments to the Operational Expenditure, it “is willing to reconsider with appropriate, detailed justification from B.E.L.”

The Belize Electricity Limited and anyone representing 10 percent of consumers have until May 12th to submit concerns or remarks on the rate adjustment. There have already been voices on call in talk shows questioning the P.U.C.’s decision not to approve the lower MER proposed by B.E.L. Avery says, “The P.U.C. has a responsibility to protect consumers while also ensuring the viability of the company.” He says if the Commission approves a rate that cannot cover the company’s operational expenses the customers will have to pay for it later when rates are re-adjusted.
Avery says based on current forecasts, rates may continue to decrease.