Indian Creek Village in Toledo District to receive electricity through Rural Electrification Project
The alcaldes of Indian Creek Village, Toledo District have been lobbying for electricity in the village. It has been months since the request was made to the Government of Belize, with success seen this past weekend when a consent agreement was signed. The Ministry of Public Utilites, under Minister Michel Chebat, has sourced the funding for the Rural Electrification Project in the village, from the United Arab Emirates with collaboration from Belize Electricity Limited. According to the Ryan Cobb, the Energy Director in the Ministry of Public Utilities, explained that the residents will now pay the national rate for electricity. He further explained that the project will be a hybrid system using solar panels and a diesel generator. Currently, the project is looking at the service entrances and the procurement of the equipment needed.
Ryan Cobb, Energy Director, Ministry of Public Utilities, Logistics and E Governance: “It’s a four hundred kilowatt solar hybrid system mini grid where we’ll be producing electricity from solar panels, batteries and diesel generation as backup. What will happen is that this grid is isolated so it’s not connected to the national grid and will be producing power locally, clean energy here and we have partnered with Belize Electricity Limited where they’ll be operating and maintaining the system. One of the benefits of partnering with BEL is the residents of Indian Creek will be able to enjoy power at the national rate so they will not be paying any expensive power they’ll be paying power at the same rate as any other Belizean within the country because all of the expense and costs goes into the national tariff basket which will be regulated by the Public Utilities Commission. It’s gonna be approximately four hundred kilowatts of power from solar panels and the rest will be coming from a diesel generator but those will primarily be for batter protection or back up whenever let’s say we have a hurricane or rains where the sun doesn’t shine for about three days or more the we would be using that but within our calculations we believe we’ll be using it very minimally.”
Minister Michel Chebat was in attendance at the signing and addressed the residents on the importance of electricity and the support from the government.
Michel Chebat, Minister of Public Utilities, Energy, Logistics and E-Governance: “Electricity is not an end of itself, it’s not just about the light. It is about communication, it is about internet, it is about you all connecting with each other and with other villages where you can do business. It is about your children learning. It is about your children having an entire new world open up to them giving them access to education. It is about health and so my friends across the country of Belize we have about twenty villages that don’t have any electricity at all and so we are working hard to bring electricity because we understand what the value it is to each of us. We understand how electricity can change all of our lives an this has not been an easy process and rightfully so because we must respect you, we must respect your traditional rights and we must work with you so that together you as the people and we as the government can bring together something that works for everybody and I think today this plant that you have here is a real example of that. It is an example of the government and the people working together for a common good.”
Area Representative for Toledo West who also serves as Minister of Rural Transformation, Oscar Requena, noted that while the electricity is needed in Indian Creek, there was a long process required to have the residents agree to the installation.
Oscar Requena, Minister of Labour, Local Government, and Rural Development: “I remember coming here after the pandemic, sitting down with them and listening to them. In fact Donicio was at that meeting and many others. Many others of the community who said Minister we are concerned about the project, when is the light coming ? We want it. And we said no problem Minister can tell you I took this matter to Cabinet and I have been lobbying for two years and a half, two years and a half lobbying and every time I sit beside minister “and Minister when will we get it ?” and “When will we get it going ?” and I go to the Prime Minister. But there was a delay because we had to go through the process. And what is the process ? The process is that the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that the Maya have rights to their land, to their customary land and as such government is required to put in place a process of consultations to consult the community to get their consent for whatever development we are going to bring to the community. The government has made every commitment to respect the Maya people and we do that every day. Every day we do that. Unfortunately sometimes you know things that are said that does not help the process but I will tell you as your area representative, you elected me, I am in that house because of you so I have to speak on your behalf and I have to speak in the best interest of what you want me to do and that’s what I try to do every time.”
The signing took place on Saturday.