Even before the 2010 earthquake, only 25 percent of Haiti’s population had access to electricity, with the best-served areas rarely receiving more than eight hours a day. Restoring basic public services is the first step toward restarting growth.
To mitigate acute power shortages and support a nascent industry, IFC led the financing of the construction of a 30-megawatt power plant outside the nation’s capital. Inaugurated in January 2011, the new plant, E-Power, immediately increased the energy supply capacity in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area by approximately 35 percent.
The facility uses a cleaner technology and produces electricity at a lower cost than existing thermal plants—15 to 17 cents per kilowatt hour as compared to 22 to 26 cents for other installations in the country. That should reduce energy costs and improve air quality in the city by reducing the need for personal generators that burn diesel fuel. In a full production year, this will save the Haitian government $20 million.
Beyond these immediate benefits, the project is also intended to demonstrate that successful development projects are possible—and, indeed, necessary—in fragile post disaster situations. The large influx of foreign aid was needed and encouraging; but it’s also important to spark domestic private enterprise and promote reconstruction-linked investment opportunities.
The E-Power plant is majority owned by local investors and will produce electricity for the state-owned utility company under a 15-year purchase agreement. IFC provided $17 million in debt financing, and mobilized $12 million from the Netherlands FMO and $28 million from local banks and investors. The total project cost was $57 million.