By Wendy Sanassee
EarthSpark and its local affiliate, Enèji Pwòp, are social enterprises building a model for community-based microgrids in Haiti. Knowing what the host-community needs and responding effectively are important drivers of operational sustainability. To strengthen communication with customers and community members, the Les Anglais Energy Committee was formally launched on April 26th. Its mission: Support the development and implementation of policies that help EarthSpark provide reliable, affordable electricity to the community. Specifically, the Energy Committee will be organizing events and serving as an additional communication channel connecting Enèji Pwòp, EarthSpark, local officials, and users of grid electricity.
The committee, which has an advisory role, consists of 10 members, carefully selected to reflect the diversity of the community. Candidates were chosen from various sectors like education, agriculture, business, and justice. Age and gender were also considered to ensure that youth and women were well represented. In the near future, when the mayor of Les Anglais is officially inaugurated, he will also send a representative. An executive committee of president, vice-president and secretary was elected by the committee through secret ballot. While committee members were hand selected for this inaugural term, Committee members will be elected by the community for subsequent terms.
The impact of the Committee has been astounding. Committee members are taking ownership by contributing to community meetings and answering customer questions and helping the community understand operations processes. To facilitate communication with the community, the committee members have agreed to have their contact details posted on the door of the Clean Energy Store (Magazen Enèji Pwòp).
The committee will meet monthly (or more frequently) with EarthSpark and Enèji Pwòp representatives to share their opinions on matters important to the community. Members are not paid for their time, which is an amazing testament to their commitment and dedication.
Community engagement and customer service in Les Anglais has taken a great step forward with the creation of this energy committee. On one hand, we are even closer to our customers and can more easily align operations with their interests. On the other hand, the community now has a stronger voice to make its grievances and suggestions heard. This might just be the beginning of a new chapter in the energy access story of this small town of Haiti which we hope to replicate elsewhere.