Development Bank Chief Lauds Energy Grid Progress

August 15, 2008

The president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB, or BID in Spanish), Luís Alberto Moreno, met with President Daniel Ortega Aug. 3 to review the progress of projects financed here by the international lending institution, including the Electricity Interconnection System for Central America, known as SIEPAC in Spanish.

Moreno lauded Nicaragua’s advances in installing the SIEPAC energy grid, which will increase the country’s power-transmission capacity to 300 megawatts by next year, up from the 30 megawatts allowed by the current infrastructure.

The system will allow Nicaraguan energy merchants to sell power into the Central American grid, while giving Nicaragua’s energy distributor Unión Fenosa the ability to tap a larger reserve in times of energy shortages here.

Moreno noted that of the 4,500 electrical towers that will link Guatemala to Panama, 350 will be on Nicaraguan territory. Most have already been installed.

With the help of Venezuela, Cuba and Taiwan, Nicaragua has also installed several new power plants in recent months, increasing its total installed power capacity to around 700 megawatts, providing the country with an energy surplus for the first time in several years. The concern now, according to Ortega, is energy distribution.

Ortega told Moreno that the country’s increase in energy production is “moving along at a good rhythm” to the extent that “now we’re worried about distribution.”

The IDB is also providing Nicaragua with loans to increase its power-distribution capacity to the Northern Caribbean mining town of Siuna, as well as to the southern Caribbean area of Bluff, in Bluefields.

In total, Moreno said, the IDB will approve $88 million for projects in Nicaragua this year. In addition to energy projects, the IDB is helping to finance programs for food security.

Moreno said the IDB is also preparing an additional loan of $20 million for direct budget support, which the Sandinista administration says will go toward the poverty relief program “Zero Hunger” and a micro-credit program for women.

 

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