Even prior to the January 2010 earthquake, the power sector in Haiti was among the most problematic in the Western world. Only an estimated 25 percent of the population had access to electricity services―leaving an estimated 7 million people without power. The average person in Port-au-Prince only had access to electricity 10 hours per day, and half the population was illegally connected to the power grid.
Today, access to electricity in rural areas remains at approximately 5 percent, and combined technical and commercial losses of electricity are approximately 75 percent, according to the World Bank. To maintain its commercial operations, Electricite d'Haiti (EDH)―the electrical utility―requires an annual Government of Haiti subsidy of more than $120 million, representing approximately 12 percent of the national budget.
U.S. Government Strategy
Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Government aims to improve access and reliability of electricity in Haiti. USAID is working in support of the Government of Haiti to modernize the electricity sector and expand the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in targeted economic corridors and associated un-served communities.
Modernizing the Electricity Sector: USAID has helped EDH identify and prioritize needs in its operations and has provided options for possible future management scenarios. At the request of the Government of Haiti, USAID will continue to provide technical and material support to help strengthen this sector.
Caracol Industrial Park Power Plant: USAID funded the construction of a power plant that currently has a 10 megawatt installed capacity and can expand power generation to at least 25 megawatts to meet projected industrial and residential demands. The power plant is providing electricity to the new Caracol Industrial Park, built with support from the Inter-American Development Bank, and surrounding communities. The Caracol Industrial Park has the potential to employ up to 65,000 Haitians once completed; and the power facility is a key component of the park.
Electrical Substation Rehabilitation: Based on assessments conducted after the earthquake, the repair and upgrade of five substations in Port-au-Prince were identified as critical priorities for the electrical sector. The under-performance of these substations is drastically reducing the system’s capacity for transmission and distribution of electrical power. USAID is supporting the rehabilitation of these substations in order to reduce losses and strengthen EDH system capability to serve its customers effectively.
Clean Cooking Solutions: In coordination with the Government of Haiti, Haiti’s private sector, and Haitian civil society, USAID’s “Improved Cooking Technologies” program will establish a local market as well as a sustainable industry for clean cooking solutions, including liquefied petroleum gas and improved biomass cookstoves. USAID’s implementer for this project recently signed an agreement with the Government of Haiti that will transition the Société Nationale des Parcs Industriels (SONAPI) Industrial Park food service area entirely from charcoal to liquefied petroleum gas. Additionally, in the new U.S. Government-sponsored settlements, USAID is planning to furnish each housing unit with a liquefied petroleum gas cookstove.
Alternative Energies: USAID is in the process of procuring an implementer to design, install, and operate a 2 mega-watt solar (photo-voltaic) generation at the Caracol Industrial Park to supplement/replace fuel-oil generation. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is undertaking wind and solar studies to determine the feasibility of renewable energy options in Haiti. NREL has completed its preliminary investigations and has identified locations to install its monitoring equipment which will provide information on the quality and quantity of available renewable energy. NREL is also conducting a study to assess the most effective technology for generation of electricity from municipal waste in the Port au Prince area.