President Obama and Leaders of Mexico and Central America Expand Low Carbon Electricity Cooperation
Office of the Spokesperson
May 4, 2013
During his May 2-4 visit to Mexico and Costa Rica, President Obama met with heads of state of Central America, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic to discuss U.S. economic engagement and the Connecting the Americas 2022 (Connect 2022) initiative, launched by Colombia at the 2012 Summit of the Americas. As a key component of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, Connect 2022 seeks to provide, within a decade, all citizens of the hemisphere with access to reliable, clean, and affordable electricity through increased electrical interconnection. High electricity prices in Central America undermine investment and jobs and affect the lives of all citizens. With Mesoamerica’s rich geothermal, solar, wind, and hydropower resources, a diversified, lower carbon power sector can counteract these challenges.
Interconnection creates larger markets that can help attract the $25 billion in power sector investments needed in Central America by 2030. Through the Central American Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC) project – which connects Central American electricity grids from Guatemala to Panama – a vibrant electricity market bringing additional economic opportunity, clean energy investment, and energy security to the region will soon be a reality. To advance this shared objective, leaders agreed to convene a Connect 2022 Mesoamerican ministerial in June 2013, hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington, D.C., at which Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns will deliver a keynote address. The United States is supporting these efforts. U.S. companies are now associated with over 4 gigawatts (GW) lower carbon generation capacity in Mesoamerica. Since 2010, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has invested in eight clean energy activities in Mexico and Central America, including support for feasibility studies, pilot projects, study tours, and other technical assistance. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of the United States are tracking potentially several hundred million dollars in new clean energy investments in the region: A $29 million loan from EXIM to a Honduran company will expand generation at the Cerro de Hula Wind Farm, using equipment manufactured in Pennsylvania; U.S.-based Sempra Energy plans to begin construction soon on a 156 megawatts (MW) wind farm in Baja California, which will send clean renewable energy to San Diego; A 120 MW plant being developed in northern Mexico would use U.S. natural gas and Mexico’s transmission grid to send cleaner electricity to Guatemala; and Nevada’s Ormat Technologies, Inc. will soon break ground on a 35 MW geothermal plant – Honduras’ first. Ormat also operates and plans to expand on plants in Guatemala.
For further information, please contact John Finn at 202-647-7959 or visit www.state.gov/e/enr.
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