Belize Electricity Limited Announces Nationwide Power Shedding, Uncertainty Looms

Belize Electricity Limited Announces Nationwide Power Shedding, Uncertainty Looms

Residents across the country grew concerned earlier today when the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) issued a statement signaling the shedding of electricity across the country.  The shedding process is essentially a term used when energy is being rationed to consumers.  The notice from BEL indicated that all areas of the country would be affected between the hours of ten o’clock this morning to eleven o’clock tonight.  It was unclear, however, what specific areas would be without power.  It was our hope that during this afternoon’s press conference, officials from BEL would have been able to give more details into the planned outages.  It turns out, however, that the situation is uncertain and whether or not you will experience a blackout tonight is dependent on several factors.  Speaking on this matter were Jose Moreno, General Manager of Distribution Services and BEL’s CEO, John Mencias.

While a lot can be said and speculated on how we got here, CEO Mencias, noted that the important issue at this point is the solutions being derived.

John Mencias, CEO, BEL: “Immediately what we have in place is that we’re upgrading our gas turbine, as I said, at mile 8 and that is expected to come back online by early next week. It was originally at 19 megawatts. It’s being upgraded to 30 megawatts. So next week, 30 megawatts of additional capacity is coming online. Once that comes online we will be able to bridge the generation shortage that we’re experiencing right now. And then by the end of May we’ll be adding another 20 megawatts of capacity, gas turbine in San Pedro. So that means that by the end of May, compared to where we are now we’re putting back or we’re installing on the grid 50 megawatts of additional capacity. That will put us in a position to be able to meet peak demand well beyond the next 12 months and more than likely up to about 18 months. And what that does, it gives us a window, but only a window to start to put in place and we must move immediately to put in place the capacity, the additional capacity that I just spoke to you about, the additional solar, the battery storage solutions, and wind power plant as well. So that is what it does. Now, once we put the additional 20 megawatts of gas turbine capacity on San Pedro, it means that if we ever lose that cable or we have a problem with the transformers as we did last night we will be able to resort to generation from the gas turbine that will be in San Pedro. Because the demand on San Pedro we are seeing is probably around 18 megawatts the capacity of that gas turbine is about 20 megawatts that we’ll be installing in San Pedro. But that is really only a temporary solution for San Pedro. We actually have in place a more permanent solution for San Pedro. We are actually going to install a second submarine cable to San Pedro with about three times the capacity of the current submarine cable that we have in place. And we are later also going to replace that submarine cable that is there because that submarine cable was installed since 1999. So that is about 25 years old. I don’t like to say old because my age is actually longer, is more than that. Submarine cables can last 30 to 35 years perhaps but you don’t want to take any chances. So we are planning to replace that submarine cable.”

There is more to share with you from BEL in tomorrow’s newscast.=

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