More than 2 million people live in Haiti’s three northern departments. However, they have access to just 33 megawatts (MW) of installed electricity capacity. To put this into perspective Jacques Bingue said a mid-sized city like Pittsburgh, in the highly developed United States, needs about 800 MW.
Through Group Citadelle, Bingue and other members of the Haitian diaspora are working to bring an industrial park to Terrier-Rouge, near the Bay of Fort Liberte in Haiti’s Nord-Est department. Plans for their Phaeton Industrial Park site include a 155-MW coal-fired power plant to electrify the entire “Great North.” A separate plant will manufacture 300,000 tons of charcoal briquette per year, providing an alternative to wood-based cooking fuels.
According to a report on the industrial park published by Innovative Energy Solution (IES), an energy technology development company Bingue founded in 2003, 90 percent of Haitians depend on charcoal and firewood for cooking. But over time, this demand has contributed to deforestation.
“The country cannot retain its forest cover due to the charcoal problem,” Terrier-Rouge Mayor Nadege Francois said through a translator.
Group Citadelle, an organization founded by Haitian Americans that seeks to implement feasible energy policies in Haiti characterized by reliable, inexpensive electricity, shared a summary on the industrial park project. The summary said that Haiti’s reliance on “expensive diesel” has resulted in high electricity generation costs of 35 cents per kilowatt hour. Recognizing both the expense and short supply of energy in Haiti, members of the advocacy group Haiti AHEAD formed Group Citadelle to provide market-based solutions, said Bingue, who holds a PhD in mechanical engineering.
Economist Enomy Germain, who works as a professor at the Center for Planning and Applied Economics in Port-au-Prince, said only 30 percent of Haiti’s population has formal access to electricity.
“It is difficult for the government to provide electricity to the population because the energy sector is not organized. It is not organized because private sector actors block any attempt at reform,” said Germain.
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