Sunday, April 21, 2024

BEL shares with Ambergris Caye stakeholders new power expansion plan


On Wednesday, November 29th, Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) engaged San Pedro Ambergris Caye stakeholders in an informative session about the company’s power generation expansion plan. The project, dubbed BEL’s Generation Expansion Plan, outlined the strategic initiatives to meet the growing power demands of Ambergris Caye and avoid an energy crisis on the island.
Ambergris Caye is Belize’s prime tourism destination, and any issues with power supply would be detrimental to the fast-growing area of the country. The meeting included representatives from all corners of Ambergris Caye, including the Belize Hotel Association, Belize Tourism Industry Association, San Pedro Town Council, San Pedro Tour Guide Association, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the construction sector among local educators, and conservation and environmental groups.
One of the items discussed was installing a mobile power generation infrastructure in San Pedro, including a battery storage system. This would ensure islanders’ uninterrupted electricity supply, even when the power demand is higher. Another main topic was the installment of a second submarine cable. On October 5th, at a meeting hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and the Belize Tourism Board in San Pedro, it was shared that the current marine cable has deteriorated. If attention is not rendered, the island could have a power crisis.
BEL personnel at the event held at the Sunbreeze conference room noted that the power demand from Ambergris Caye has increased during this year, attributed to the heat wave periods experienced and the fast-growing island municipality. Many in attendance appreciated the engaging session and highlighted the importance of a reliable power supply as San Pedro significantly expands. Some applauded the plan to introduce renewable energy, such as solar. Others believe that generating wind energy can eliminate the dependency on fossil fuels.
BEL added that they are working diligently to ensure La Isla Bonita never goes dark because of a power crisis. They said that as the island community rapidly grows, their window of opportunity to make the necessary upgrades is slowly closing. Thus, there is a need to start implementing the General Expansion Plan soon.
Ambergris Caye connected to the national electricity grid with BEL in 1998. Throughout these years, upgrades have been made to accommodate the power load needed for the island stakeholders. Such upgrades have not avoided unplanned power outages. The most recent unexpected blackout was on September 1st, caused by a storm that plummeted San Pedro into more than seven hours of darkness. This prolonged power outage increased the urgency of upgrading La Isla Bonita’s power supply system.

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