Friday, January 15, 2010

Electricity investment in Belize opportunity. 400 megawatts more are needed in 12 years.


There isn´t a lot of information online about the sources of electricity for Belize. What we do know is that current resources of electricity are about 200 megawatts and this comes from three hydro electric dams, more are planned against environmental opposition and a growing population that do not want it. Also we buy electricity from Mexico in the Yucatan at ever increasing prices. A new sugar mill is expected to also supply some electricity. One investor, since the governments of the day became more open to diversification and private sector investment into electrical production, actually imported a WARTSILLA DIESEL BIG GENERATOR, and as our electrical demand keeps going up, he went suddenly from a politically ostracized businessman, to somebody who is now courted for his foresight and investment. He is making money, which is the name of the game and providing a needed service.
Up to now our electrical production and the distribution system has been controlled by FORTIS of Canada in a MONOPOLY. Over the last ten years a lot of debate went on about allowing the private sector to compete in the supply of electrical production for the national grid. This was met with political opposition ( mostly due to bribes and contract skimming requirements of politicians the rumor mills implied ), but the increasing population which is growing exponentially and the electrical shortages simply by-passed the politicians and forced the issue from one of perceived corruption blocks, to one of a scrambling for electricity at any price. Suddenly the debate became irrelevant and the doors have opened wide to the need for private competitive sector investment in the electrical supply business to the national grid.

The current outlook is that the private sector needs to find an additional 400 megawatts of additonal electricity over the next 12 years. Various investments are being looked at as the more open competitive supply of electricity is meeting with favor. Though the government hasn´t really made the legislation suitable to encourage investment yet. The politicians are reserving their right to control and make corrupt incomes off such permits and licenses involved. At the moment the politicians are not in the drivers seat, as the demand for cheaper and more electricity is escalating and the prices of Mexican electrical supply is going through the roof. Local private sector competition is expected to drop electrical costs if allowed, for the citizens and consumers, if the politicians would just let the free market place develop.

Private sector investors are looking at the 300 megawatt small Chinese nuclear plant. You have small nuclear electrical plants scattered around Mexico for examples. Another avenue would be more private sector, WARTISLLA DIESEL investments. Though since these rely on crude oil prices, this might not be a very good environmental, or profitable long term solution.

On the other hand, a fairly rapid solution to electrical supply might be the ability to drop outsourcing, or cut the amounts down, by going to NET METERING. Net metering would mean, both wind and solar production of electricity on a home by home basis, at the small investment homeowner level. You produce small amounts of electricity and feed the excess into the National Grid that you do not use. This is a really neat way to go. In the past both FORTIS OF CANADA and the governments of the day did not encourage this method in the past ten years. For political enrichment and control reasons the public believe. Yet the escalating demand for reliable electricity and our growing economy is going to make these opponents to NET METERING obstructions, get swept aside as the next few years pass, due to public necessity. The government would be better making appropriate encouraging legislation and regulation and let the real world market place settle the philosphical arguments on NET METERING. One can see a new national industry both for local electrical consumption and for export in manufacturing such small home systems right here in Belize, based on the GROWING DEMAND over the next 12 years and that 400 megawatts of electricity we have to find someplace, to allow our economy and life style to grow. Ethanol production which is very practical with our tropical crops, can also run generators on home, or small business systems feeding our national grid. The obstacles here are the bureaucratic regulatory and tax environment. Otherwise it is very practical already.

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