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‘Stop keeping us in the dark,’ productive sector tells GOB

By Michelle Sutherland

''Stop keeping us in the dark,'' is Vice President of Industry at the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) William Usher's advice to the Government of Belize as it relates to the future of Belize's energy sector.

Usher, in an interview with The Reporter, said that the recent power outages, as well as the Comision Federal Electricidad (CFE)’s move to limit power supply to Belize due to their own demands locally, have been a cause for great concern among Belize's productive sector.

That concern among members, according to Usher, continues to intensify daily as the peak season for the various industries, including the tourism industry, the agricultural sector, and the shrimp industry is fast approaching.

While these shortages took place during the productive sector’s non-peak season, Usher said that stakeholders are on the edge and are hoping that the lights stay on during their busy season, known for increased energy demand.

“I think the government should be very concerned, from the tourism aspect to the industry, well as the agriculture sector, because the peak season for all these entities is coming and we need to understand where we are. The demand for energy keeps going up and will not stop because development is ongoing. We are not sure where the problem lies. If it is BEL, PUC [Public Utilities Commission], or the GOB,” said Usher.

Usher pointed out that, unfortunately, during these peak seasons, the base load energy produced from sugar cane biomass is not available. That coupled with the fact that CFE has taken the move to limit Belize's power supply is enough for the government to realize that the issue will become a recurrent one if something is not done to address it.

While Usher agrees that the problem cannot be fixed overnight, he said that the issue is that it seems that the government does not have a clear policy regarding the future of Belize's energy supply, in particular, in terms of alternative energy.

“We are hearing certain things but we are not seeing anything as it relates to policy and so what we are asking. Please we want to know what the policy is because even within the industry, stakeholders want to know whether they can play a role in terms of investments in these areas,” indicated Usher.

While Usher said that they have been hearing talks of transitioning to solar energy, which is known as intermittent energy, and is not known to be reliable, Belize, opined Usher, needs base energy which is generated from biomass, and which is the most stable form of energy there is. In closing, Usher advised that the Government needs to be looking at several areas instead of only thinking and talking about solar energy.

“We haven't had a written response from the Minister, but I think the public deserves to know what is our energy policy; stop keeping us in the dark because we just seem to be waiting in the dark,” ended Usher.

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