ECPA Sustainable Communities Initiative Enables Environmental and Social Impact in the Caribbean

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean is currently supporting the development of two important activities in the Caribbean. The official launch of a solar project in Antigua and Barbuda, and the completion of an energy audit in the Dominican Republic, account for the most recent accomplishments of this ECPA initiative.

Implemented by Ruth’s Place, this solar energy project seeks to demonstrate how solar energy works at the community level, as a means to bring widespread public education and awareness leading to empowerment and capacity building. Four demonstration sites were inaugurated, and six additional photovoltaic systems will be installed by the second semester of 2015. Another significant accomplishment is the leveraging of additional co-financing from the Environment Division of the Ministry of Tourism and Environment. The outcome of this project will be presented by the implementer at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in December 2015.

Dominican Republic has not only one of the most expensive electricity rates in Latin America, but is facing a large electricity production deficit, being unable to supply current demand. Users are not only paying high fees, but being forced to purchase expensive backup equipment like diesel generators, and therefore spending more resources on electricity supply. A project currently funded under the OAS Sustainable Communities Initiative, aims to reduce energy costs for the Dominican Republic Rehabilitation Association (ADR), a renowned nonprofit dedicated to enhance the disabled community wellbeing. Currently, ADR devotes much of its financial resources to electricity supply, which is due in large part to increased electricity rates, costs of fossil fuels and the national electricity deficit. To address this problem, the project will allow the implementation of energy efficiency measures and the installation of a photovoltaic system that will significantly reduce electricity consumption costs, enabling the organization to continue and expand its mission by allocating funds in activities of greater social impact.

An energy audit of the main ADR building in Santo Domingo has been completed. Audit results revealed that ADR can potentially save 275,966 kWh, equivalent to US$44,600 per year which represents 28% of its energy consumption. Next steps under the project include the implementation of energy efficiency measures by ADR (covered 100% with co-financing) and the installation of the 30kWp photovoltaic system.

The Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean initiative seeks to strengthen the capacities of nongovernmental organizations and community-based associations to build sustainable communities. The first phase of the initiative concluded successfully in 2014. The OAS, through its Department of Sustainable Development, has begun implementing the second phase with financial support from the United States Permanent Mission to the OAS.