Chalillo Dam

Electricity rates highest in Central America

George and Candy Gonzalez
April 15, 2007


“Each year, Fortis/BEL reports higher and higher profits as our rates go up and the [Macal] river gets worse.”

Fortis/BEL (Belize Electricity
Ltd) submitted an application for a change in their current tariff
(rate) structure last week. They said it was part of their obligation
under the law. What they did not say is that they are doing it as part
of their guarantee, under a contract with the Government, for a rate
increase of at least one and one half percent every year; that contract
is the ‘Third Master Agreement,’ signed and witnessed by Prime Minister
Said Musa and Minister Ralph Fonseca on Nov. 21, 2001, in relation to
the building of the Chalillo Dam. Remember that contract? We could not
get a copy of it until we went to court. It was supposed to cost US$30
million to build Chalillo but the final price is allegedly more than
US$100 million. (see Meerman at http://biological-diversity.info/chalillo.htm)

Fortis-BECOL is now building a third dam, the Vaca Dam, which they said
(in their 2006 report) would cost US$50 million (that is 100 million
Belize dollars!). What kind of ‘agreement’ has the government signed
concerning the construction of this dam? Does it guarantee no liability
for any loss of property or loss of life due to problems caused by the
dams, as guaranteed in the Third Master Agreement? Does it guarantee
more rate increases for Fortis/BEL as guaranteed in the Third Master
Agreement? We don’t know. All we do know is that we pay Fortis/BEL the
highest rates for electricity in all of Central America. Each year,
Fortis/BEL reports higher and higher profits as our rates go up and the
river gets worse.


George and Candy Gonzalez are a husband and wife team of environmentalists based in Belize.

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Categories: Chalillo Dam

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