Belize’s Energy Sector Overhaul: New Legislation Explained

Belize’s Energy Sector Overhaul: New Legislation Explained

Last month, the government approved new legislation geared at modernizing and putting in place safety guidelines to standardize Belize’s energy sector. On March 4, the Ministry of Public Utilities and Energy ratified the New Electricity Licensing and Consent by way of Statutory Instrument (S.I) 39. The legislation, according to the PUC, seeks to modify the existing regulatory environment for electricity supply, transmission, distribution, and energy storage. Many of the provisions under the new law may have slipped many Belizeans, who will be affected. So tonight, reporter Vejea Alvarez breaks down the new law. 

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: If you are one of the few dozens of Belizeans who use solar energy to power your home or business, you may now need to obtain a license to do so. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has implemented new laws that will govern the transformation of the country’s energy sector. Under the new SI, the commission has expanded the number of licenses required to take part in the supply, transition, distribution, and sale of energy. PUC’s Director of Tariffs, Standards, and Compliance, Ernesto Gomez, spoke about the overall goal.

Ernesto Gomez, Director of Tariff’s, Standards and Compliance PUC: “Many people are going forward and installing their own generation at their homes via solar panels or small little wind turbines and we find out that the old legislation did not give the powers to the PUC to license them and to bring them into they system.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The PUC’s three categories of licenses have been expanded to fifteen different licenses, which range from 100 to 10,000 dollars in cost. The categories cover a range of people, from those generating just enough for their homes to persons seeking to construct industrial wind, solar, or biofuel plants. Meanwhile, persons producing below a certain threshold will only be required to register with the PUC.

Ernesto Gomez, Director of Tariff’s, Standards and Compliance PUC: “What we call the small installations, the installations below 3 kilowatts which is 300 watts they’re not required a license. They’re required to register and they’re required that BEL does an inspection that their technical equipment is to standard and will not burn or anything like that.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: And with the changes comes a new way of calculating a person’s energy bill if they are producing energy. The PUC is now revising its tariff structure to create a more equitable way of charging residents, who are both consumers and producers. 

Ernesto Gomez, Director of Tariff’s, Standards and Compliance PUC: “Well the tariff needs to be able to reflect that. That you know they pay the right price for the energy, pay for the infrastructure that they use as a demand charge and also pay a fixed charge for the fixed type of transactions that are done for example the production of an electricity bill and stuff like that and also they get paid for any generation that they produce in excess and is fed to the grid. So a new tariff has to be developed to be able to cover these types of activity. It is common around the world, it’s being implemented everywhere.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Another major change will be the introduction of a demand rate, which will vary based on an individual’s peak consumption rate. The Belize Electricity Limited has already begun installing smart meters, which track usage and will aid in determining the charge, according to Gomez.

Ernesto Gomez, Director of Tariff’s, Standards and Compliance PUC: “It’s a little bit more fair because right now we just lump everything into per kilowatt hour. So you’ll be paying the same portion as anybody else on the per kilowatt hour unit while in this case it will be basically your demand. If you happen to be fanatic of electronics and all types of electricity gadgets, air fryers and microwaves and all that then you’re going to be demanding more and you’ll be paying more. So it’s just fair that we level the playing field and let the persons pay as they need.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News:  Persons who produce excess energy can sell power to BEL. However, they will not be collecting cash. Gomez explained that the payment would be calculated as an avoided cost and be deducted from the person’s electricity bill.

Ernesto Gomez, Director of Tariff’s, Standards and Compliance PUC: “In the case of Belize you will avoid the diesel engines, you will avoid the heavy fuel oil and you will probably avoid Mexico because everything that is produced by the sugar industries we buy because obviously you cannot stop the production of sugar and everything that passes through the hydro we buy. So as a result when we add up those three ones that are being avoided it comes up with an average rate and that’s the rate that the people that are feeding in will get paid. It is almost equivalent to the average cost of power. Right now the average cost of power is about twenty five cents.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The regulations also encompass several other guidelines and guardrails to ensure the energy sector can evolve by leaps and bounds while protecting all involved.

Ernesto Gomez, Director of Tariff’s, Standards and Compliance PUC: “The most important part is safety and as a result there is a set of regulations for interconnection that will set out the safety part of it to make sure that the person producing it is safe and whatever he’s injecting into the grid is also safe for the workers of BEL and for the other consumers that are close to that person.”


Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Under the new regulations, persons who currently conduct electricity activities above a certain threshold without a license are required to apply for one no later than six months after the regulations came into effect. Vejea Alvarez, Love News.

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