Last night the Public Utilities Commission along with Belize Electricity Limited held a Public hearing at the Belize Biltmore Plaza. BEL submitted and presented on their Full Tariff Review proceeding which included regulated values, electricity rates, fees and charges. Senior Manager of Energy and Material Supply, Ernesto Gomez said that the package being presented was focused on customers.
“The design of this full tariff review period is purely focused toward the customer. Every investment that we will do intends to improve something of the customer and in this capital package that we are presenting of $174 million dollars it is intended to reach and improve the reliability of the system. We consulted with the KEMA company that has done a benchmarking of the Caribbean utilities. What they did is that they supplied a report basically and showed us the start of the submission that actually shows that BEL ranks as one of the most cost efficient utilities in the Caribbean.”
One major submission made by Gomez was the rise of electricity per kilowatt hour. The current mean electricity rate is thirty five cents per kilowatt hour. BEL wants to now change that to thirty nine cents per kilowatt hour.
“In our submission we want the PUC to recognize our operating expense. I know the PUC in its wisdom targets us to become more efficient, it’s their job and that is what they should do and every time a full tariff review period goes on it’s an opportunity to reset the parameter and continue the targeting. So we are saying it is now the right time, we have the benchmark reports, our OPEX per unit is dropping. If you recognize our OPEX it just means corrections at the end of the day. With this plan, this submission we believe that we can get to the customers, improve our service, get to new communities all in all with the submission of .39 cents per kilowatt hour.”
Another submission made to the PUC was in the customer care sector, looking at those who cannot pay their bills as well those who do not have electricity. Sean Fuller, Senior Manager of Information, Communication, and Customer Care expanded on their customer care submission.
“Our system expansion will see BEL attempting, and working at it’s very best by the year 2020 our goal is to really get every single household connected or have access to connection to electricity. Again with access and affordability BEL will continue as it has been over the past couple years, we have a tradition of in support of remission to improve the quality of life for Belizeans we’ve invested and we will continue to invest up to half a million dollars over the next four years in a golden citizen program where annually over 500 golden citizens within this country will either get their full bill paid or a subsidized version of their bill paid depending on their consumption patterns. It goes beyond that. We are expanding our network to all these communities in Belize but there a quite few Belizeans who just cannot afford to get connected to the network. Our connecting homes improving lives program will allow BEL to increase.”
The number of power outages; universal access to electricity and company investments were included in the submission. Senior Manager of Information, Communication and Customer Care explained.
Another submission made to the PUC was the customer care sector, looking at those who cannot pay their bills as well those who do not have electricity. Fuller expanded on their customer care submission.
At the public hearing, there were not many comments made by the public that attended, except for one person who commented on the fact that BEL did not present on quote “their most critical investment, their employees.” End of quote.