We have noticed in Belize is that the power has become a bit more reliable. It used to be that you would have blackouts at least three or four times a week. There are some villages that don’t even have power running through them and they use a generator.
The national power grid is more reliable now. Not too long ago, the government of Japan donated funds to build a 500-megawatt solar array at the University of Belize in Belmopan that feeds back into the grid. I think that is a good sign. Even the power that they buy from Mexico is generated through hydro-electric facilities but it’s gotten more reliable.
In my project and a number of other expats have chosen to go “off grid” and go with solar power. Because of the abundance of sunshine that we get here in Belize, it’s a very good alternative.
People go off grid for different reasons. Some people do it because they are happy to save the planet. Most people do it because of their independence and for the peace of mind and because the cost for electricity in Belize is fairly high. It’s US 27.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. In California the rate is 15.2 cents; in Hawaii, its 33 cents, and in Texas, it’s a little over 11 cents. The cost for electricity in Belize does add up, so with the right solar package, over time, they save quite a bit of money in the supply of electricity and they have control.
People like having the independence from a utility company and from the grid and know that their price is not subject to the utility company raising it in the future. The utility company may change the price of electricity some months from now and I don’t think that anybody will predict that energy is going to be less expensive and more reliable coming off a traditional grid.
The picture above is of a house with a solar collector, at Carmelita Gardens, Belize.