By Victoria Rocha | ECT Staff Writer
The U.S. Agency for International Development is another financial contributor, and the NRECA International Foundation “will be making the project a fundraising priority during 2013,” said Dan Waddle, senior vice president of NRECA International Programs.
The new co-op will aim to provide power on a regular schedule in the communes of Roche-à-Bateau, Coteaux and Port-à-Piment, said Jim Walsh, senior representative at NRECA International Programs.
Right now, mini grids powered by diesel generators operate in the principal towns in each commune, but electric service “does not adhere to a regular schedule,” said Walsh. During a visit there in April, Walsh noted that the communities hadn’t had power in a month.
“Basically, service is arranged through committees of volunteers associated with the mayor’s office who go around and collect payments from customers based on the number of light bulbs, and then buy diesel fuel,” said Walsh.
There’s a renewable energy angle to the project, too. NRECA International will work with the Solar Electric Light Fund, a solar developer that works in developing countries, to build a photovoltaic solar array in the service areas.
Also, NRECA International will advise the Haitian government on legal and regulatory frameworks for setting up electric co-ops.
With this new contract, “Haiti has become quite the hub of activity for our team this year,” said Waddle. Last month, USAID awarded a $24 million contract to NRECA International Ltd. to form a new regional utility in an area near Haiti’s north coast. Power from that utility will serve at least 5,000 customers.