At the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, the United States joined Colombia and other leaders of the Western Hemisphere in committing to achieve universal access to electricity over the next decade through enhanced electrical interconnection. This initiative, developed by Colombia and called “Connecting the Americas 2022”will increase access to reliable, clean, and affordable electricity for the region’s 31 million citizens without it. Connecting the Americas 2022 supports the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), launched by President Obama at the 2009 Summit of the Americas, which promotes regional collaboration on low-carbon development, energy security, and climate change.
Electrical Interconnection in the Americas
The Western Hemisphere produces one quarter of the world’s oil, almost one-third of its natural gas, and nearly 30 percent of global electricity, and is also endowed with abundant renewable energy resources. The region requires a 26 percent increase in new power generation capacity to meet annual projected GDP growth of as much as 6 percent over the next decade. Electrical interconnection benefits all countries by allowing those with excess power to export electricity to countries that have a power deficit. Interconnected power systems allow for greater integration of renewable energy resources, as well as power exchanges among countries with varying climate and seasonal needs. Interconnection expands the size of power markets, creating economies of scale, which can attract private investment, lower capital costs, and reduce electricity costs for consumers -- that makes businesses more competitive and helps create jobs. When coupled with national strategies to develop off-grid, mini-grid, or clean cook stoves, electrical interconnection will bring modern energy services to hundreds of millions who have limited or no access, including in this hemisphere.
Connecting the Americas 2022: The Decade for Electrical Interconnection
This hemisphere has made significant progress to integrate power sectors and promote cross-border trade in electricity with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), World Bank, Organization of American States (OAS), donors, and private companies. Connecting the Americas 2022 will serve as a framework for the Americas to reinforce regional and bi-national efforts to bring electricity to all parts of the hemisphere. Connecting the Americas 2022 is a platform for development and prosperity: it means education for children, cold chains for vaccines, reliable power for clinics and hospitals, and lower costs for business. Connecting the Americas 2022 will create a business climate that accelerates development of renewable energy and attracts private investment, big and small. Connecting the Americas 2022 will open markets that bring the best in power technology to markets that need low-cost and efficient solutions. Working through ECPA and other mechanisms, Connecting the Americas 2022 will tap the expertise, technology, and capital of individual countries, regulators, utilities, the private sector, and multilateral organizations and institutions.
U.S. Government Support for Connecting the Americas 2022
Ongoing and new technical assistance and capacity building programs through ECPA and other mechanisms include:
- U.S. Department of State (State) grants to the Institute of the Americas to support policy dialogues among Central American energy ministers and regulators to overcome regulatory barriers to increasing intra-regional electricity trade. State will increase technical assistance to support the development of commercially sustainable regional power trade between Central America, Mexico, and Colombia.
- U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) support for a completed feasibility study examining the potential for electrical interconnection between Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which concluded that the interconnection is technically and economically possible.
- State grant to the Organization of American States to determine the potential for electrical interconnection between Saint Kitts and Nevis and Puerto Rico. This grant also supports a policy dialogue with Caribbean Energy Ministers, the Caribbean Community, donor governments, and regional institutions to discuss the potential for electrical connection via sub-sea cables and renewable energy development.
- State support for Smart Grid technology demonstration projects in Latin America.
- Deepening the work of the U.S.-Mexico Cross Border Electricity Task Force to promote renewable energy markets between our two countries.
- Enhancing cross-border trade in electricity through the U.S.-Canada Energy Consultative Mechanism.
- Facilitating Smart Grid technology cooperation between DOE and Colombia through the U.S.-Colombia High Level Partnership Dialogue’s Energy Working Group.
- New State-supported technical assistance to governments and utilities in Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis to develop their geothermal sectors and establish the commercial, regulatory, and legal frameworks needed to support inter-island sub-sea power connections.
- New U.S. Trade and Development Agency Smart Grid Series that will host Mexican and Colombian regulatory and power utility company representatives in 2012 to familiarize them with the U.S. Smart Grid regulatory environment, technologies, and equipment, based on a successful Chilean program in 2011.
- Creating commercial opportunities and expanding market access for U.S. investors and suppliers of power and communications systems and clean energy technology through trade missions and economic statecraft.
This Fact Sheet is also available here.