BEL working to Boost Power Generation Amidst Infrastructure Hurdles

BEL working to Boost Power Generation Amidst Infrastructure Hurdles

While BEL says it had been signaling the need for greater power generation for some time, it was not able to tackle the issue fast enough. The company is now hoping to get two new gas turbines up and running to generate additional power to the tune of fifty megawatts. The turbines, being constructed in the Belize District, are expected to be completed by the end of this month, and BEL believes the machines will greatly improve its ability to meet the country’s demands. But what took so long? General Manager of Energy Supply and Transmission, Jose Moreno, says the company’s plans were hindered by the laws governing the country’s energy sector. 

Jose Moreno, General Manager of Energy Supply and Transmission, BEL:  “Last year our board made the decision that we have to deploy generation resources. BEL is not responsible for the procurement regulations. BEL tells the regulator what our forecast is and then they are supposed to go and open up the market to attract those investments but we haven’t seen that since 2014. In 2013 there was an RFP for seventeen megawatts of new generation we only managed to finalize eight megawatts. So since then we haven’t added any new generation and our demand has been growing. So here we are. Last year we said we will have to invest in generation because at the end of the day those are our customers and we need to be responsible to guarantee their supply and that is why we are doing the upgrade of the gas turbine at mile 8 and the new addition of twenty megawatts of another gas turbine that is going to San Pedro. In the case of San Pedro the planned called for battery storage that hasn’t realized itself yet. We also had a new cable, there is a project for a new cable. We are working arduously on that to get that project off the ground and hopefully by 2026 or earlier we will have that new supply there but as far as generation resources are concerned we believe that after this weekend we are supposed to be in a better situation because we’re going to add thirty additional megawatts and by the end of May we will have an additional twenty megawatts from that turbine that we are deploying to San Pedro.”

Moreno added that one of the main temporary solutions to its energy woes is the shedding of power. However, he says that it is difficult for the company to decide which communities are affected by the decision.

Jose Moreno, General Manager of Energy Supply and Transmission, BEL: “The reason why we load shed is because we come up with a situation where we cannot meet the demand and that happens only if Mexico tells us “listen I have a situation in my system I need you to back off, I need you to curtail the supply.” right? Until then we don’t know. We cannot go ahead and forecast and put advisories out there if things are not gonna happen and that’s why they advisories that we have been sending out to our customers are general. Just telling them listen we are in this precarious situation, we might need you to come off or we might have to take out the feeder in our area out of service. Now last night we did mostly feeders in Belmopan, in San Ignacio we had two feeders out in San Ignacio. We had the Rural Belize feeder and one feeder in San Pedro Feeder 4 , that is the southern part of the island. We don’t expect if we need today we don’t expect to touch those feeders again unless we have one of those unfortunate occurrences where something goes wrong and we lose the entire system. Hopefully not.”

The company says that it will not be implementing rolling blackouts to curtail the country’s energy demand.

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