Connecting the Americas 2022

Date: 07/22/2015 Location: San Salvador, El Salvador Description: Special Envoy Amos Hochstein engages with Central American Energy Ministers on regional energy integration.  - State Dept Image

At the Sixth Summit of the Americas in April 2012 in Cartagena, the Government of Colombia put forward a bold agenda in proposing Connecting the Americas 2022 (Connect 2022) to ensure our citizens, businesses, schools, and hospitals have the electricity they need at a price they can afford. At the Seventh Summit of the Americas in April 2015 in Panama City, Panama, the United States amplified this message, addressing the inextricable link between energy and climate policy and securing a clean energy future by setting ambitious targets for climate-resilient energy development.

Connect 2022, launched by Colombia's former Minister of Mines and Energy Mauricio Cardenas and the U.S. Secretary of State, is a hemispheric initiative, which establishes a decade-long goal to achieve regional electrical interconnection and improve access throughout the Americas to stimulate greater power sector investment, renewable energy development, and regional cooperation. Power generation in Latin America and the Caribbean needs to double by 2030, and the region needs over $700 billion in power sector investments by 2035, according to the IEA. Over 34 million people in the region lack access to electricity.

Connect 2022, endorsed by heads of state in the Cartagena Summit declaration, supports the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), involving all governments of the Western Hemisphere, the private sector, IDB, World Bank, and OAS. It is advanced bilaterally and sub-regionally in North America; Central America with Mexico and Colombia; the Andes with Chile; Brazil and Southern Cone; and the Caribbean.

Connect 2022 efforts in Mesoamerica have begun to bear fruit, including the completion of the final link in the Central American Electricity Interconnection System (SIEPAC) regional transmission line in late-2014. Progress on regional electricity market integration has produced a tripling of the volume of electricity trade in the regional market since mid-2013. 2014 was also a record year for investment in renewable energy, which, in tandem with a robust regional electricity market, will strengthen the region’s energy security, help it achieve clean energy goals, attract greater private sector investment, and make the regional economy more competitive.

In South America, Connect 2022 work supports the Andean Electrical Interconnection System (SINEA), which was formed in 2011 to create an "Andean power corridor." Connect 2022 stimulates the physical infrastructure finance needed to interconnect the power grids throughout the Americas. To see success in the SINEA project, which includes Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, Connect 2022 provides the policy support needed to develop the regulatory framework for cross-border power trade and transactions among the five countries. The IDB is a partner in the region in the role of SINEA Technical Secretary and leads the development of studies on physical infrastructure planning and bilateral regulatory harmonization in the region.

Audit Completed

ENR competed out and awarded a contract to Development & Training Services, Inc. (dTS) to conduct an independent, external evaluation of U.S. diplomatic engagement to advance the goals of the Connecting the Americas 2022 Initiative (Connect 2022) in Mesoamerica. Under Connect 2022, the United States seeks to promote cross-border electricity interconnections, electricity trade, and electricity market integration to help countries in the Western Hemisphere attract investment in clean energy infrastructure. The external evaluation’s scope, based on over 100 stakeholder interviews and surveys, excluded foreign assistance programs, such as ENR’s Power Sector Program (PSP) and USAID’s Regional Clean Energy Initiative. The final report for the Connect 2022 evaluation, submitted in May 2015, is attached.

Key takeaways in line with evaluation results:

- Diplomatic engagement has succeeded in advancing (Connect) 2022 objectives.

- ENR will continue to engage on 2022 and advance the energy integration agenda in the Mesoamerican region, emphasizing the link between reliable, interconnected energy systems and economic development.

- ENR will explore additional opportunities for public diplomacy and policy support – two areas in which State Department activity to date was viewed as markedly positive and beneficial.

Electronic copies are attached, with links to report and presentation.

U.S. engagement under Connect 2022 can usefully underscore what is needed to strengthen Central America’s regional electricity market and regulatory institutions, and continued progress in these areas will be instrumental to attracting the increased power sector investment the region needs to transition to cleaner, lower cost electricity generation.