Haiti – Late evening, on 10 September, the town of Les Côteaux in the south of Haiti switched on its lights for the first time. In a celebratory event, organised by UN Environment's partner the US not-for-profit National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the town’s mini-grid was switched on and the entire town was illuminated by streetlights.
The event was attended by local communities who were thrilled with the developments, as well as UN Environment’s partner the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF). Forming part of UN Environment’s Haiti Sustainable Energy programme, the lights will be operational in the other parts of Les Côteaux by the end of September. Other towns will follow later this autumn.
The mini-grid aims to provide sustainable access to electricity seven days a week through pre-paid metering systems, and increase economic development in three coastal towns in the south of Haiti, located 250 km from the capital Port-au-Prince. The grid will cover - via a 23km line - two additional towns, Roche-à-Bateau and Port-à-Piment, which are expected to be connected to the grid later this autumn. All three towns are located on the southern peninsula outside of the geographical scope of Haiti’s national grid, Électricité d'Haïti (EdH). This is the first time the three towns will have access to reliable electricity.
The electricity is provided by 120kW of solar energy and two diesel generators (120kW and 250kW). Importantly, there will be no limiters on the power, allowing the communities to set up new small businesses which rely on energy, such as bakeries, convenience stores and icemakers, without the risk of power outages or brownouts. Such small businesses would help generate economic growth locally and are much needed in the area. The pre-paid metering system allows consumers to purchase credit for electricity services in their homes and businesses in small quantities and as they need it.
The construction of this innovative solar-diesel hybrid mini-grid has been ongoing since 2012, as part of UN Environment's Sustainable Energy programme in Haiti, funded by the Government of Norway.
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