Even prior to the January 2010 earthquake, the power sector in Haiti was among the most problematic in the Western Hemisphere. Only an estimated 25 percent of the population had access to electricity services―leaving some 7 million people without power. The average person in Port-au-Prince had access to electricity only 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 five percent. Moreover, 95 percent of Haiti’s electricity is generated by imported oil.
The combined technical and commercial losses of electricity were approximately 75 percent, according to the World Bank 2010 data. According to the International Development Bank in 2012, to maintain its commercial operations, Electricite d'Haiti (EDH) ―the government owned electrical utility―requires an annual Government of Haiti subsidy of more than $170 million.
U.S. Government Strategy
Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Government aims to improve access to and reliability of electricity in Haiti. USAID is working with 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: Since March, 2011, USAID has helped EDH identify and prioritize its operational needs and identify options for improved management. With U.S. Government and other donor support, EDH continues to work to limit economic losses through improved billing and collection rates. 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 at the Caracol Industrial Park that will meet the projected electricity needs of the park’s commercial tenants as well as that of residential and commercial users in selected surrounding communities. The plant currently has a 10 megawatt installed capacity and can expand power generation to at least 25 megawatts. The Caracol Industrial Park, built with support from the Inter-American Development Bank, has the long-term potential to employ up to 65,000 Haitians once it is operating at full capacity; the power facility is a key component of the park.
Electrical Substation Rehabilitation: Based on post-earthquake assessments, 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 drastically reduced the system’s capacity for transmission and distribution of electrical power. USAID supported the rehabilitation of these substations in order to reduce losses and strengthen EDH system capability to serve its customers effectively. Due to that effort, 72,000 customers will eventually have access to improved electricity services, and the numbers will grow once new power generation is added to the grid.
Clean Cooking Solutions: In coordination with the Government of Haiti, Haiti’s private sector, and Haitian civil society, USAID’s Improved Cooking Technologies Program (ICTP) is establishing local markets for clean cooking stoves and a sustainable industry to sustain it. Through this program, USAID inaugurated a large charcoal-free cooking zone at the SONAPI Industrial Park in Port-au-Prince. All charcoal stoves were replaced by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stoves that are made in Haiti by manufacturers supported by the ICTP. Prior to the switch to LPG stoves, food vendors located at the park consumed more than ten tons of charcoal a week. Additionally, in the new U.S. Government-sponsored settlements, USAID is planning to furnish each housing unit with a liquefied petroleum gas cookstove.
Renewable Energies: The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is undertaking wind 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. USAID has initiated its procurement process for a two mega-watt solar (photo-voltaic) generation at the Caracol Industrial Park to supplement/replace fuel-oil generation.