Courtesy Pan-American Development Foundation
Haiti had limited energy resources in the late 1980s.
country had no petroleum resources, little
potential, and rapidly diminishing supplies of wood fuels.
accounted for 75 percent of the nation's energy
Petroleum accounted for 15 percent; bagasse (sugarcane
for 5 percent; and hydroelectric power, for 5 percent.
consumption was paltry, even for a low-income country.
per capita energy use in 1985 was equivalent to that in
Bangladesh and about seventeen times less than that of
neighboring Jamaica. Having virtually no access to
Haiti's poor depended on the felling of trees for the
of charcoal. Similarly, many rural and provincial small
businesses used wood as a fuel in powering their
Beginning in the late 1940s, various international oil
companies had unsuccessfully explored for oil in Haiti's
Artibonite Basin and Cul-de-Sac Basin. The prospects for
deeper wells or attempting even higher-risk offshore
were not promising. Oil imports, mainly from the
Antilles and Trinidad and Tobago, amounted to about 15
Electricity consumption increased sixfold between 1970
1987, but only 10 percent of the population had access to
electricity by 1986. About 45 percent of the residents of
Portau -Prince had access to electricity--a reflection of the
concentration of national economic efforts and resources
capital--while a mere 3 percent of those outside the
enjoyed similar access.
Installed electricity capacity in the late 1980s was
estimated at 147 megawatts (MW), and it was expected to
to 190 MW by the late 1990s. The National Electricity
(Electricité d'Haiti--EdH), created in 1971 to control the
built Péligre hydroelectric plant, operated the nation's
system in the late 1980s. As was true of other enterprises
throughout the economy, the president was the nominal head
EdH. The company administered the 47-MW Péligre
plant, the 22-MW Guayamouc hydroelectric plant, a series
smaller hydroelectric plants, two large thermo-electric
operations (42-MW Varreux and 38-MW Carrefour), small
and the distribution system. The national system, however,
highly disjointed; no power links extended from the
provincial cities. Supplies of imported petroleum used in
plants fluctuated because of foreign-exchange shortages,
and dryseason water shortfalls hampered production at
dams. EdH's generation was unreliable. Under these
rationing of electricity was common in the 1980s, and most
businesses maintained back-up generators. EdH, which had
financial problems in the 1970s, charged the highest
rates in the Caribbean in the 1980s. Many people illegally
into power lines, and by the late 1980s, as many as one in
urban residents reportedly engaged in this practice.
International development agencies had explored
sources of energy, such as wind power, solar power,
production from sorghum, and power generation from organic
but none appeared to be immediately feasible.
Data as of December 1989