Belize Electric Co. Limited (BECOL) announced May 30 it received all major approvals for construction of the 18-MW Vaca hydroelectric project on the Macal River in Belize.
BECOL, a unit of Fortis Inc. of Canada, also said it signed a 50-year agreement with Belize Electricity Ltd., another Fortis unit, to sell power from the US$52.5 million project beginning in 2009.
�The Vaca facility represents the final phase of a three-phase development on the Macal river to maximize its hydroelectric potential, Fortis President Stan Marshall said. �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.�
The run-of-river plant is to increase Macal River energy production by about 80 gigawatt-hours to 240 GWh per year. The project is to have minimal environmental effects as most of its storage will be provided by the upstream Chalillo Reservoir.
BECOL completed construction of the 7.3-MW Chalillo in 2005. In addition to providing 30 GWh annually, that US$30 million project and its 9.5 square kilometer reservoir — formally called the Macal River Upstream Storage Facility (MRUSF) — increased generation of the downstream 25-MW Mollejon project, to 135 GWh from 80 GWh.