BEL Initiates Gas Turbine Activation to Alleviate Power Woes

BEL Initiates Gas Turbine Activation to Alleviate Power Woes

The light at the end of the tunnel may be near as Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) has begun preparations to bring its gas turbine, located in the West Lake area, online.  The facility, on the George Price Highway, is expected to produce some 30 megawatts of power and will prevent further wide outages.  BEL’s Chief Executive Officer, John Mencias, appeared on The Morning Show today, explaining that this turbine will serve well in the coming months when temperatures are expected to increase.

John Mencias, CEO, Belize Electricity Limited: “The commissioning meaning that we are starting to bring it online that started over the weekend and it’s going well and it’s on schedule for us to start to bring it online by tomorrow. 30 megawatts.”

Rene Villanueva Sr, Host, The Morning Show: So that would take care of your shortfall ? 

John Mencias, CEO, Belize Electricity Limited: “That would take care of the shortfall assuming it doesn’t go beyond 125 but remember though the 95 is everybody at full steam and the 30 megawatts is that full steam. For example if one of the units at BabCol is about 7.5 megawatts. Most of the units are about 8 megawatts so if 8 megawatts fall offline if we lose BelcoGen that’s actually 12. Santander thats 8, so if you lose that that’s about three feeders that’s about the equivalent of three feeders. So it will be tight. But we do expect that Mexico will be able to provide us with at least 20 for the time being. But remember now one of the reasons that we are upgrading the gas turbine is because we’re trying to get head of the peak not only for Belize but for Mexico. That peak really occurs in June for both of us. And remember we have not really had a heavy heat wave as yet as we did last year.”

With the West Lake turbine not yet online, BEL continues to be on high alert tonight, monitoring the demand and availability of power across the country.  Currently, the company has to source 115 megawatts of electricity daily to satisfy the country’s peak demand.  In some instances, that amount could reach 125 megawatts.  When it comes to the available sources in the country, BEL gets some 95 megawatts which leaves the outstanding dependent on external sources, particularly, the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) from Mexico.  

John Mencias, CEO, Belize Electricity Limited: “CFE told us yesterday “We can give you up to 55 megawatts but only up to nine o’clock tonight. There is always room for negotiation with them. For example on Friday they told us they could give us 20 megawatts until six o’clock. The 20 plus the 95 on a Friday evening was just enough to hold everybody. So we announced that from six to nine there were certain feeders that would be taken out, I think we had about five of them, a couple in Orange Walk  so we’re holding it and then six thirty they said by seven o’clock we’re going to take you down to zero. So now the people who were on the six to nine schedule then went to a seven to nine schedule. But they said we’re going to give you five megawatts. Now that might seem like a little bit but that is about two small feeders. So as a result we only took out feeders in Orange Walk and one in Corozal instead of the five. So that continued through until about 9 o’clock and we’re waiting for the demand to ease off because it tends to, there’s a second peak in the evening when the street lights come on and up to about eight, nine and then it starts to drop off. So it started to drop off a bit enough that when we switched over to the other set it was another set of feeders that were to be taken offline we only took out one. I think it was feeder two in Orange Walk. It was to be taken out for two to three hours about fifty five minutes after nine CFE said I can give you three megawatts more I’ll take out up to eight and that was enough to bring in the feeder. And then by midnight they said you know we can come back to normal but we had already passed the peak.”

As it relates to the upgrading of the gas turbine in San Pedro Town which will see an increase in capacity from 19 megawatts to 30, and will cost some 34 million dollars.  Additionally, BEL is in the process of installing a new gas turbine on the island at an estimated 44 million dollars.  This is expected to come online by the end of the month and will provide an additional 20 megawatts of power.

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