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“Water bill may go down,” says PUC

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

Belizeans could be looking at lower water bills in a matter of months, following an initial decision by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to reduce the rates by 6.39 percent.

PUC Chairman, John Avery, explained on Wednesday that the PUC’s decision, which if unchanged would see a $1.12 reduction in water rates, is only the first step in the process. Avery said that Belize Water Services (BWS) as well as a collection of water users making up at least 10 percent of the national usage, can still challenge the decision within 15 days.

If any part challenges the rate, the PUC will then have to bring in an independent evaluator to review the proposal submitted by BWS and the subsequent decision by the PUC. The evaluator would then make a recommendation after which the PUC has another 15 days to consider.

Whether the PUC keeps the current rate or amends it further, Belizeans will see changes to their water bill on April 1, 2018; which could last for the remainder of the Full Tariff Review Period, which runs up to March 31, 2020.
Avery noted that the last rate approved was $17.49 per thousand gallons, which comes to an end on March 31. The new rate would bring that figure down to $16.37 per 1,000 gallons.

Avery said that the PUC considered BWS’ current financial position and projected a $170 million investment over the next two years, and decided that there needed to be an adjustment to the rate.
“The last few years have been the most profitable for BWS in its whole existence. We believe that the company is in a place right now where they can absorb this reduction,” Avery said.
He noted that tariff reviews for water are done on a less frequent basis than reviews for electricity; but said that the PUC still needs to be vigilant in monitoring water rates.

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