On Friday, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) released its final evaluation report for the 2013 Request for Proposals for Energy Generation (RFPEG) exercise. From a field of more than 20 bidders in the areas of both firm and intermittent capacity, a total of 11 projects advanced to the final stage where they were subjected to theoretical analysis of how they would fit into the Belizean electrical grid. Of these proposals, eight of which were for firm capacity of up to 60 megawatts of electricity and three for 15 megawatts of intermittent capacity from renewable energy sources, two of the latter were withdrawn, leaving a proposed solar generation project by Blair Atoll Power Company Limited the sole bidder in the area of intermittent capacity. Its proposal, to build three solar plants in Ladyville, Placencia and Corozal providing 15 megawatts of electricity at an investment cost of US$37 million beginning in 2016, was subsequently approved, along with a separate proposal for the installation of a third generator at its Placencia plant to provide around the clock capacity for BEL of 7.5 megawatts, beginning almost immediately. According to PUC chairman John Avery, Belize’s energy future looks primarily to co-generation and hydro electricity projects as these provide the greatest source of national development in spite of their challenges. Thus the PUC recommends that projects be sponsored by Southern Renewable Energy Limited to be on the Macal River in the Cayo District and on the Swasey River in the Toledo district be sent for negotiation. Additionally, it approved co-generation projects sponsored by GSR Energy in the north and SS Energy which is a sister company to Green Tropics Limited under the banner of Santander Sugar in the west. Avery details the benefits of each approved project.
Basically there are three projects that are being recommended outright for negotiations based on price and the capacity being provided. Those are GSR cogeneration project, which involves methanol production and then some 47 Megawatts of generation capacity to be installed, 22 Megawatts to be shared and 25 Megawatts of service to be B.E.L. The second one is the Challio 2 Hydro project, which will provide 12.8 Megawatts. This project will be constructed close to the Macal River and so the storage capacity of Challio project will also benefit this project. Then we have the Upper Swasey Hydro Project. Those are 3 projects based on cost and available capacity that the analysis shows, without question, fpr farther negations with B.E.L.”
The Blair Atoll and SS Energy projects are expected to be fast-tracked to address immediate problems in maintaining firm capacity for electricity in the dry season, as Avery explains.
John Avery Chairman, Public Utilities Commission
“Basically, the results of the capacity stimulation exercise shows that without the addiction of the needed capacity, the country reserves a very tenuous regular season. These would suggest that squarely at a capacity bases, you would want the the BAPCOL Project and SS Energy online as quickly as possible. Reason being is that BAPCOL project’s facilities are already in the country. It only requires licensing in order to sell power to B.E.L. We have, in the pass, relied on this plan when we lost Mexico on several occasions. It also provides capacity for the southern part or the country whenever we need to do the maintenance of the transmutation system in the central and northern part of the country. The SS Energy project is a part of a bigger project to produce Sugar. The project proposal does in fact installs its own generation and so, this will only be an add on project.”
On average Belize gets most of its energy from Mexico’s CFE and existing Hydro projects on the Macal River but those projects are known to be unreliable in the dry season. Avery says that the PUC wishes to ensure that costs to consumers are ultimately lower and that electricity supply can be maintained when power from Mexico is lost. Other projects including the proposal by Cohune Energy Limited for harvesting eucalyptus plants for co-generation were deemed not in line with current government policy and so the PUC declined to advance them. The PUC obtained comments from the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology and Public Utilities and other interested parties. They will now inform the winning bidders of their decision paving the way for negotiations with the power provider. According to Avery the decision was not influenced in any way by political expediency. In fact, he said, today’s presentation had been postponed from prior to the municipal elections to avoid any chance of political mischief. Southern Renewable Energy was said to feature Anwar Barrow, son of the Prime Minister as a consultant and figurehead but he did not participate directly in the proposal’s presentation.///[