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Belize Experiences Power Shortages due to Reduction of Supply from Mexico

power shortages in belize

As the scorching sun climbs higher in the sky, signaling the arrival of hotter days on Ambergris Caye, residents brace themselves for the inevitable surge in electricity consumption. With temperatures soaring, the demand for cooling relief surges, pushing power consumption to peak levels. However, as electricity usage reaches its peak, the island faces the looming threat of power shortages. As the strain on the electrical grid intensifies, the possibility of disruptions to essential services looms large, prompting residents to prepare for potential challenges in the days ahead.

Over the weekend, Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) scheduled 9-hour power outage in Ambergris Caye to install a new generator at the San Pedro Town Substation in order to improve the reliability of power supply to the island. Power consumption on the island has come very close to surpassing its 17MW capacity that is supplied via a submarine cable that connects the island to the national grid.

power shortages in belize

And while Ambergris Caye deals with its own consumption woes, last week BEL informed its customers that on Thursday April 18, between 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., it was unable to fully meet demand for power due to the curtailment of supply from our key supplier, Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) in Mexico. As a result, BEL had to conduct load shedding of various feeders in Belmopan, San Pedro, and in the South until the situation was normalized around 9:00 p.m.

More Power Shortages from Mexico’s Supply

The Yucatan Peninsula, including Mexico’s popular tourist destinations, has been experiencing rapid economic growth, leading to a significant increase in energy demand, similar to the trends observed in Belize. Demand for power in Mexico reaches its daily peak during the late evening hours, between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., and, at times, CFE has had to limit the energy supplied to Belize due to generation supply constraints. In such circumstances, BEL relies on in-country generation capacity to meet local demand. However, if demand on the grid exceeds local generation supply, power interruptions then become necessary to maintain grid stability.

It is essential to highlight Mexico’s historical role as a strong and reliable partner in supplying energy to Belize. The interconnection with CFE has been our most reliable source of power to date and has enabled Belize to maintain some of the lowest electricity rates in the Caribbean and Central America over many years. However, unprecedented growth in consumption, changing climate conditions, and delays in getting generation sources online, in both Mexico and Belize, are now impacting our ability to meet demand.

BEL expects that the reduction of supply from Mexico will continue throughout the next few months and may increase further into the future. It is for this reason that the company has been making every effort to encourage and facilitate the development of utility-scale solar generation sources supported by gas power plants and battery storage solutions as required by its Least Cost System Expansion Plan.

“In the meantime, we are taking pro-active measures to address the immediate generation shortage,” stated BEL. “Upgrades to our Gas Turbine at BEL’s West Lake facility (Mile 8 George Price Highway) are on track to be completed by early May and a mobile gas turbine is scheduled to be installed in San Pedro before the end of May. These will add 30 MW of additional generation capacity to the grid, substantially improving our ability to meet demand for power into next year even when CFE is unavailable.”

BEL says it remains committed to delivering safe, reliable, and sustainable energy solutions to its customers and thanks them for their understanding and cooperation as it continue to make every effort to maintain stable and reliable electricity supply to all our service areas throughout the country.

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