Hydroelectric, Renewables

Fortis to build new hydroelectric generation in Belize

31 May 2007 – Becol, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Fortis Inc, has announced that it has received all major approvals for construction of a $52.5m 18-MW hydroelectric generating facility at Vaca on the Macal River in Belize.

Becol has signed a 50-year agreement with Belize Electricity Limited for the sale of the energy generated by the Vaca facility, commencing late in 2009.

“The Vaca facility represents the final phase of a three-phase development on the Macal River to maximize its hydroelectric potential,” explains Stan Marshall, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fortis. “The existing upstream Chalillo and Mollejon hydroelectric facilities have benefited the customers of Belize Electricity and the country of Belize by helping to stabilize electricity rates and by increasing reliability of energy supply,” he says.

The run-of-river Vaca facility will increase average annual energy production from the Macal River by approximately 80 GWh to 240 GWh. It has minimal environmental impact as most of the storage will be provided by the upstream Chalillo reservoir.

Becol owns and operates the run-of-river 25 MW Mollejon hydroelectric facility and the 7 MW Chalillo storage and hydroelectric facility. The Chalillo facility began operating in 2005 and increased average annual energy production from the Macal River by approximately 80 GWh to 160 GWh.

“Over the past ten years, energy consumption in Belize has increased, on average, nine per cent annually. Since our initial investment in Belize in 1999, the country’s peak energy demand has climbed almost 70 per cent from approximately 40 MW to 67 MW.

“The Vaca facility is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings when it comes online late in 2009, assuming normal hydrology,” says Marshall.

“Our increased investment in Belize reflects our confidence in the country and its future growth potential. The Vaca facility, by enhancing reliability of energy supply and reducing dependence on more costly oil-fired generation and imported energy, will help Belize achieve its long-term sustainable development plans,” concludes Marshall.