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Belize Electricity Limited has completed the Caye Caulker Feasibility Study to confirm the economic and social benefits, and the environmental impact of installing a submarine cable to connect Caye Caulker to the national electricity grid. This means that the company is interested in improving its services to the growing island.

BEL is investing $15Mil Bze to connect Caye Caulker to the national electricity grid via a submarine cable, pretty much the same thing they did on Ambergris Caye 20 years ago. The tourist island still runs on old diesel generators that can be heard if you listen closely, especially at night with the village is at its quietest. Running these generators proves to be costly, noisy, pose an environmental risk to the island and provide no renewable source of energy.  

Plans Ongoing to Connect Caye Caulker to Mainland Electrical Grid

"It's not sustainable to keep the generators running to provide the kind of supply that Caye Caulker will need,” commented Kevin Petzold, Project Manager at Belize Electricity Limited. “So its planning for the future and also taking environment into consideration."

BEL is planning on laying an underground/underwater cable that would connect Caye Caulker to Ambergris Caye. The route would traverse the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and run approximately six miles from southern Ambergris Caye to northern Caye Caulker.

Plans Ongoing to Connect Caye Caulker to Mainland Electrical Grid

Kevin Petzold states that BEL is being very responsible when it come to protecting the environment, keep in very close consultation with the Hol Chan Marine office, planning on taking every precautionary measures in ensure the integrity of the marine reserve, the recreational fishing areas and fishermen’s lobster traps in the area. They are also avoiding landing the cable on the northern-most tip of Caye Caulker which is a forest reserve and moving the landing site a few miles down and outside the land reserve.

Plans Ongoing to Connect Caye Caulker to Mainland Electrical Grid

The northern-most tip of Caye Caulker is a forest reserve

Plans Ongoing to Connect Caye Caulker to Mainland Electrical Grid

A submarine cable now supplies the same diesel electricity of the island's generators to north Caye Caulker via the split

What the islanders on Caye Caulker want most is a reliable power supply, which BEL says it will improve on by connecting the island to the national grid. The electrical company says it hopes residents see this project as beneficial to the island. They have been extensively communicating with stakeholders and residents, held many forums and one on one talks with residents and have not seen any significant concerns. Residents seem to have faith in BEL’s project and responsible measures.

“I think we were successful in San Pedro and we'd like to see the same level of success for Caye Caulker, where the outage has reduced dramatically over the last few years,” stated Petzold. “The line itself has not experience any issue for over 20 years."

An Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Report was submitted as a part of the study to the Department of the Environment (DOE) for further review.  A public consultation on the ESIA Report will be held at 6:30pm on Thursday, March 21, 2019 at the Caye Caulker Roman Catholic Primary School. The report is available online at www.bel.com.bz. After that BEL will seek funding from the CDB.

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Dorian Nuñez

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