We must commend the swift action taken by Mayor Wally Nuñez and the San Pedro Town Council in getting to the bottom of what was taking place at the Iguana Sanctuary this week. After we contacted the mayor and forwarded him footage of the mangrove at the sanctuary being cleared, he immediately took action to stop it before any more damage was done. Today we find out that the mangrove clearing will continue in order for Belize Electricity Limited to deploy a 10 MW of Battery Storage in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Here is what we know:
The Demand Electricity on the Island is Growing
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) is currently preparing the grounds to install 10 MW of battery storage in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The project needs to be carried forward because the demand for electricity in San Pedro is growing faster than expected, peaking at a record high of 16.4 MW in 2023. BEL says it is very important for the company to deploy the battery storage in San Pedro in order to address the growth in demand and to increase reliability and sustainability of electricity supply to the island. This would prevent unexpected power outages in the future.
Sadly Growth Means Losing Some Mangrove
This increase in growth and demand for more power supply on the island means means that the mangrove area at the Iguana Sanctuary will have to be removed in order for BEL to install its battery storage facility. What we found out when BEL’s crew commenced to clear a large part of the mangrove at the reserve is that the electric company has legal permit to conduct “mangrove alterations/selective trimming” and in fact, the company owns the property, even a section of the street. All this land sits immediately behind BEL’s power station.
Concern Grew for the Iguana Habitat
The Iguana Sanctuary grew out of the love and compassion of one man who started feeding the abundant iguanas that claimed the mangrove area which laid untouched for many years. Eventually the area grew in popularity due to the hundreds of iguanas that populated the area. It became a tourist attraction and the area was developed into a small park with walkways and seating for people to go enjoy the animals in their natural surrounding. We understand that BEL allowed for the sanctuary to encompass their property for the time that it was not being used.
Mayor Wally Quick to Action
Mayor Wally Nuñez tells us that the Town Council was not aware of the permit to cut down mangrove and had hoped that BEL would have consulted them before commencing works on the property. His initial reaction, as to the rest of the community was: “We are definitely not happy with this and will do whatever we can to stop it,” as he told us when he found out the the mangrove was being chopped down.
Our Mayor’s quick actions are commendable as he went out of his way to understand what was happening. He even contacted Hon. Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, who temporarily stopped the works until a meeting was scheduled. After the meeting, it was clear that BEL has all the rights to clear the area for their project, they will continue to allow part of the property to be used as a public street and that they will leave space to be used for the continuation of the iguana project.
More About BEL’s Battery Storage System
Belize Electricity Limited says that the project is guided by the Least Cost Expansion Plan (LCEP) study which provides a 20-year roadmap for meeting Belize’s growing energy needs in a sustainable and cost-effective way. The 10 MW of battery storage system, which is being developed at a BEL owned property behind the BEL Substation on Pescador Drive in San Pedro, is the first phase of a larger plan to deploy 40 MW of battery storage across the country. Construction work for this project in San Pedro will commence in 2024 and be completed by 2025.
“We assure the community of San Pedro that our activities are in line with the environmental clearance and mangrove permits obtained from the Departments of the Environment and Forestry. We remain committed to open dialogue with our various partners and key stakeholder groups, including the San Pedro Town Council, as we continue to work together to ensure this vital project is completed in a manner that is safe, sustainable, and respectful to the environment and the community.”
BEL reaffirms its commitment to one of our core Values, “We give back to our community and protect our environment” and our Mission, “We deliver safe, reliable and sustainable energy solutions to enhance the quality of life and the productivity of enterprise and to support national development.”