At the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, the United States joined Colombia and other leaders of the Western Hemisphere in committing to achieve universal access to electricity over the next decade. Connecting the Americas 2022 (Connect 2022), launched by Colombia at the Summit in April, is a framework for the Americas to reinforce regional and bi-national efforts to bring electricity to all parts of the hemisphere and a platform for development and prosperity. Connect 2022 supports the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), launched by President Obama at the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. ECPA promotes regional collaboration on low-carbon development, energy security, and climate change.
The Western Hemisphere produces one quarter of the world’s oil, almost one third of its natural gas, and nearly one third of global electricity, and is endowed with abundant renewable energy resources. However, more than 31 million citizens across the hemisphere lack affordable, clean, and reliable energy services. Electrical interconnection benefits all countries by allowing those with excess power to export electricity to countries that have a power deficit. Interconnected power systems allow for greater integration of renewable energy resources, as well as power exchanges among countries with varying climate and seasonal needs. Interconnection expands the size of power markets, creating economies of scale that can attract private investment, lower capital costs, and reduce electricity costs for consumers, making businesses more competitive and creating jobs.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimates that electricity demand in Latin America and the Caribbean will double over the next decade. The International Energy Agency estimates the region will require $700 billion in power sector investments, not including Canada and the United States, to meet the growing demand. Connect 2022 will create a business climate that accelerates development of renewable energy and attracts private investment. The initiative will help open markets that bring the best in power technology to markets that need low-cost, efficient solutions. Connect 2022 will tap the expertise, technology, and capital of individual countries, regulators, utilities, the private sector, and multilateral organizations and institutions.
Under ECPA, the United States is providing technical assistance and capacity-building programs throughout the hemisphere, particularly in Central America, the Caribbean, and the Andean region. Through the North American Leaders’ Summit, the U.S.-Canada Energy Consultative Mechanism and Clean Energy Dialogue, and the U.S.-Mexico Cross-Border Electricity Task Force, we are working to further cooperation on electrical interconnection with our nearest neighbors. Agencies across the U.S. government are working together to coordinate efforts on Connect 2022.
Additionally, the U.S. government is working closely with the IDB, World Bank, Organization of American States (OAS), donors, and private companies, to coordinate existing efforts on cross-border trade in electricity and identify further opportunities for collaboration.