La Gracia Village in the Cayo District is now completely powered as the Smart Solar off-grid rural electrification project was inaugurated yesterday. The pilot project which saw the international collaboration of the UK and Swiss Governments cost about seven hundred thousand dollars. Present for the inaugural ceremony were British High Commissioner to Belize, His Excellency Peter Hughes, Minister of Works Rene Montero and Minister of State with responsibility for Energy and Public Utilities, Frank Mena.
“This project will help to bring a sustainable supply of electricity to this village for the first time and well in advance of when the grid will reach this area. Secondly the electricity will be generated from a renewable source, the sun. Our contribution to this project was minimal but it enabled this system to be linked up to every house in this village which is important. It is my view that this project will change the lives of every man, woman and child in La Gracia. It will provide opportunities for the village to develop and grow and for every person to have the chance to expand their horizons and achieve goals they could not think of before. It is incredible to think that the basic human right of access to information which so many living in cities and large towns enjoy every day will now be a right for every villager in La Gracia through this project. They will no longer be limited by where they live with the basic necessity of electricity to help them communicate with the world outside. Just think what this project will do for the potential of the children of this village and all of you in front of me here. You may not realize it but their futures will be better and also more challenging because access to electricity brings so many benefits. I would like to thank all of those who have worked tirelessly to bring this project to fruition there are too many to name individually but I would single out Slyvan from SESB, Lucas and the team from _______, the engineers from BEL, CEO Dr.Peter Allen without whom we would not be here and officials from the Ministries. I cannot leave out the co donors the governments of Belize and Switzerland.”
“This 24 kilowatt system is there for exactly what your village needs to ensure that you continue on the road to progress and prosperity. Today will mark another milestone in your development but this will not be the only development this village will ever have, this is in fact just the beginning of many many more projects to come.”
“To me it’s all about energy, it’s all about you the good people of La Gracia. Harnessing the power of the sun and using the energy as a springboard, a springboard for agriculture, for education, for health and of course for prosperity. Your government works for all the people my friends and we want to use lessons we learned here in La Gracia to help us to take this electricity, this energy to every corner of our beloved country.”
The system provides power to more than 45 households and is designed with the capacity to increase supply to meet future demand.