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 through enhanced electrical interconnection. This initiative, developed by Colombia and called “Connecting the Americas 2022” will increase access to reliable, clean, and affordable electricity for the region’s 31 million citizens without it. Connecting the Americas 2022 supports the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), launched by President Obama at the 2009 Summit of the Americas, which promotes regional collaboration on low-carbon development, energy security, and climate change.
Electrical Interconnection in the Americas
The Western Hemisphere produces one quarter of the world’s oil, almost one-third of its natural gas, and nearly 30 percent of global electricity, and is also endowed with abundant renewable energy resources. The region requires a 26 percent increase in new power generation capacity to meet annual projected GDP growth of as much as 6 percent over the next decade. 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, which can attract private investment, lower capital costs, and reduce electricity costs for consumers -- that makes businesses more competitive and helps create jobs. When coupled with national strategies to develop off-grid, mini-grid, or clean cook stoves, electrical interconnection will bring modern energy services to hundreds of millions who have limited or no access, including in this hemisphere.
Connecting the Americas 2022: The Decade for Electrical Interconnection
This hemisphere has made significant progress to integrate power sectors and promote cross-border trade in electricity with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), World Bank, Organization of American States (OAS), donors, and private companies. Connecting the Americas 2022 will serve as a framework for the Americas to reinforce regional and bi-national efforts to bring electricity to all parts of the hemisphere. Connecting the Americas 2022 is a platform for development and prosperity: it means education for children, cold chains for vaccines, reliable power for clinics and hospitals, and lower costs for business. Connecting the Americas 2022 will create a business climate that accelerates development of renewable energy and attracts private investment, big and small. Connecting the Americas 2022 will open markets that bring the best in power technology to markets that need low-cost and efficient solutions. Working through ECPA and other mechanisms, Connecting the Americas 2022 will tap the expertise, technology, and capital of individual countries, regulators, utilities, the private sector, and multilateral organizations and institutions.
U.S. Government Support for Connecting the Americas 2022
Ongoing and new technical assistance and capacity building programs through ECPA and other mechanisms include: