By Adam Eberwein
The World Cup final is upon us! This year Haiti may be watching from the sidelines but the fanaticism over the past few weeks has been palpable as Brazilian and Argentinian flags draped from rooftops and motorcycles, and a chorus of cheers echoed through town as heroes of ‘futbòl’ scored another goal.
As an energy provider in Haiti, we understand how the provision of electricity for these important games is makes for satisfied customers and contributes to the quality of life of the community at large. While working to repair and reconnect customers to the Les Anglais network over the past year, the town was remarkably patient and understanding of the time it takes to rebuild. There was however, a common anxiety. Time and time again we were asked if there would be electricity in time for the World Cup.
Taking into account the customer demand and coincidental timeline restrictions, we agreed the start of the World Cup would make for a jovial priority milestone for having all customers reconnected. The good news is… we kicked that goal! All Les Anglais customers that were ready (i.e. customer houses physically ready for connection and contracts signed) were reconnected and electricity was flowing by the start of the World Cup on June 14th. This meant across 330 connections, crowds huddled around radios and televisions for each of thrilling game.
EarthSpark is not the only utility that understands events like the World Cup highlight the impact of electricity on a community. Those tuning into the national sports channel saw EdH (Electricity of Haiti) sponsored commercials at halftime. This world event is a rare opportunity for the national electric utility to make the case that paid bills lead to better service, among several key messages. Not unlike us, many government-sponsored energy projects in the north and south appeared to tailor project deadlines to correspond with the beginning of the World Cup.
Though recent rebuilding efforts in Les Anglais have been swift, potentially due in part to this once-every-four-years sporting event, it’s only part of the story. The rebuilding efforts span over many months of hard work as far back the first few weeks after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Our most recent challenge in the rebuild was to return our generation system to full output. Previously, with fewer customers, the damaged system’s solar capacity was sufficient to meet lower demands. As we continue to connect more and more customers, the need to achieve full output is unquestionable. We partnered with the government and a local solar company to fully restore the solar array. The shiny modules were commissioned days before the beginning of the World Cup.
As the town celebrates the ups and downs of sports and we near the end of our rebuild, we are reminded of the ever-present need for energy access. Lighting, cooling, mills, pumps, televisions and radio all provide services that are life improving on a daily basis. As the flags get packed away and the cheers fade into memories, we will continue to provide the tools necessary for the community to tune into the games but also for working and growing in Les Anglais.