by Allison Archambault
EarthSpark is launching Haiti’s first pre-pay microgrid in the small town of Les Anglais. Preliminary installation began in September, and we are presently continuing the installation so that the first customers will be able to turn on grid electricity in their homes by the end of November.
A Haitian technician installs an insulator on a utility pole next to the Digicel antenna.
The initial customer base is small—just 14 households—but the grid will demonstrate three things:
1. Prepayment is an effective way of managing billing for electricity services. (Prepayment is not a novel electricity billing approach, but it is new to Haiti. Most Haitians are already prepaying for their phone service.)
2. Deep efficiency can extend the value of electricity generation without increasing customers’ energy expenditures in the microgrid context. LED lightbulbs and other efficient end-user products require little electricity to deliver high-quality energy services. EarthSpark’s involvement throughout the value chain aligns incentives for these efficiencies to be optimally adopted. Finally,
3. The grid’s collaborative business model highlights how, by working with local businesses, a grid operator can lower operating costs for businesses while also opening up access to affordable, reliable electricity for households. A special thanks to National Geographic both for their financial support and for featuring this microgrid in this month’s print edition of National Geographic magazine! (page 9) Follow the installation progress on facebook and picasa.
Near-term micro-grid expansion: bigger, smarter, greener
While the initial grid in Les Anglais will serve as a viable grid and important demonstration, it is designed for expansion to cover all 400 homes and businesses in the Les Anglais downtown area. Phase Two of the Les Anglais microgrid will serve 400 customers, will integrate 93 kW of solar PV as a generation source along with battery storage, and will manage billing and SCADA with a small-scale smart meter system designed specifically for the BOP microgrid market. EarthSpark is actively fundraising for this expansion now.