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Electricity rates go up once more

As of July 1, Belizeans will see an increase in their electricity bills. The Public Utilities Commission has approved a 6.24 percent average increase in the Mean Electricity Rate, an increase from its initial decision made some weeks ago. This translates to just under forty cents per kilowatt-hour. This is the PUC’s final decision in respect of the 2018 Annual Tariff Review Proceedings for the Belize Electricity Limited for which the company made submissions in April. It had asked for average rate of 39.25 cents over the two year period but the Commission approved an average rate of 38.62 cents in May. BEL objected and an independent expert, Ian McMillan was appointed to review the initial decision and make recommendations for the determination of regulated values, Tariffs, Fees and Charges that were included in the PUC’s final decision. In a press conference this morning, John Avery, chairman of PUC elaborated.

John Avery, chairman of PUC: The independent expert basically disagreed with BEL for several of the objections, the particular points they raise in their objections and he agreed with some of them but reserved any changes being made during this FTRP but that perhaps the PUC may consider making some changes in the way the rates are calculated and dealt with in the next full Tariff period which will start 2020. The PUC basically accepted most of the recommendations of the expert and in fact several of them were measures we intended to undertake immediately after this decision was made final to tweak the setting methodology to try to enhance it and to change the way in which BEL makes it submission so that we have better information to ultimately make better decisions as perorate setting methodology we didn’t make any adjustment to the OPEX however the adjustment to the RAV that affected the depreciation, the return, it affected the corrections and with the increase in cost of power all of these basically resulted in a slight increase the approve rates as compared to the initial decision. The initial decision had basically approved of a 4.41% increase of the final decision and the final decisions approves at 6.24% increase.

Avery adds that the Commission is satisfied that the decision is fair to consumers and the supplier.

John Avery, chairman of PUC: The role of the PUC is to strike a fair and reasonable balance between consumers and the licenses so really when we are setting a rate what we are looking for is a fair rate and I would say we can perhaps improve but we try our best and so we really believe that customers aren’t being gouged. There can be better decision making and planning but as I said you work these things over time and we will be engaging BEL over the next few months and you may see completely new type of submission and rate setting well not a completely new but a revised rate setting process for the 2019 annual review procedure.

The independent expert’s final report was produced on June 12. According to Avery, bylaws do not allow BEL to object to the independent expert’s analysis and final report on Annual review proceedings.