Updated August 16, 2001

Second Summit of the Americas


The Santiago Plan of Action, in seeking to ensure sustainable energy development and further the energy integration of the Hemisphere, set out to commit governments to the Hemispheric Energy Initiative and FTAA regulations.  Their tasks and objectives are to:

This process made significant progress when on July 29 and 30, 1999, Ministers of Energy of the Hemisphere met in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Ministers met to evaluate the progress made towards the fulfillment of the goals previously adopted; to share experiences about the energy integration process and discuss ways to make further progress in this area; to discuss the importance of the clean development and use of energy; to encourage the energy business sector established in the Hemisphere to organize itself into a Business Forum; and to consider the extension of the current Coordinating Secretariat.

In adopting a New Orleans Declaration and a Joint Statement on Clean Development and Use of Energy, Ministers recognized that in order "to succeed in making sustainable energy development and use a reality for the 21st century, continued and aggressive efforts are needed to remove remaining impediments to energy trade and investment, to promote projects to address local, regional and global environmental concerns, and to further increase opportunities for the private sector."  Ministers also recognized that sustainable energy policies and development are integral elements of any strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Ministerial also produced an Energy Business Forum of the Americas, in which "Ministers agreed to facilitate an interchange of ideas and perspectives between the business sector and government officials of the energy sector on issues related to the implementation of the commitments on energy adopted in the   Action Plans of the Miami and Santiago Summits of the Americas".

The Secretary of Energy of the United States of America, Bill Richardson, organized the Ministerial with the aim of fomenting an unprecedented level of public - private dialogue on hemispheric energy issues (see Richardson's speech).  The Secretary also announced a joint Department of Energy - World Bank -  project with electricity producers in ten South American countries.  The project is intended to promote expanded cross-border electricity connections.

Ministers agreed that the Fifth Hemispheric Meeting of Energy Ministers would be held in the year 2000 in Mexico on a date to be determined.

Privatization, Deregulation, and Integration of the Energy Sector

The Americas are leading the world in terms of privatization, deregulation, and integration of the energy sector. Most countries in the hemisphere either have already adopted legislation calling for restructuring, integration, and privatization are in the process of doing so, or expect to do so in the near future. A few notable examples include the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Bolivia.

In the Dominican Republic, the Government has been privatizing via the capitalization of the Dominican Electricity Cooperation (Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad, CDE), the state-owned utility. The process was delayed slightly because of the repercussions of Hurricane Mitch, but was eventually completed in second-quarter 1998. In May 1999, the Government sold a 50 per cent stake in two generating companies (totaling 1,246 MW) to two private developers. Just before the Second Summit of the Americas, in March 1998, the President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández, approved a decree that created a Superintendency of Electricity to oversee a national competitive power market.

Guatemala, along with five other Central American nations, has been active in the integration of energy markets through the Electric Interconnection System for Central American Nations (Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica para los Países de America Central, SIEPAC), a $350 million project that will connect Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama via a 1,800, 230-kV transmission line. The Inter-American Development Bank, the Spanish Government, and the governments of the six participating nations are financing the SIEPAC. Guatemala is also in the midst of privatizatizing its energy sector. It passed a General Law of Electricity in November 1996 and ratified regulations to implement it in March 1997.  In October 1998, the Guatemalan Government created a wholesale electricity exchange, the Wholesale Market (Mercado Mayorista, MM). Additionally, the distribution system of the Guatemalan Electric Company (Empresa Eléctrica de Guatemala, S.A., EEGSA), one of the two main utilities in Guatemala, was privatized in July 1998. The Nation Electrification Institute (Instituto Nacional de Electrificación, INDE), the other principal utility, privatized its distribution system in December 1998.

Bolivia is deeply involved in the integration of energy markets, thanks, in part, to its abundant natural-gas reserves (in 1998, natural-gas exports accounted for 26% of Bolivia's total exports). A $2.1 billion pipeline connecting Bolivian natural-gas fields with the growing southern Brazilian market was completed in February 1999 and became operational in July 1999. The construction of the pipeline resulted in a sharp increase in energy-related investment in Bolivia. Bolivia has also been restructuring its electricity sector since December 1994, when it passed a law that divided the assets of the state-owned utility Empresa Nacional de Electricidad (ENDE) and separated the responsibilities for electric generation, transmission and distribution. This was part of a larger capitalization program to improve the nation’s economic situation. Currently, four private companies are partial owners of generating assets in Bolivia, distribution is divided among five partners, and transmission is a regulated monopoly that was awarded to a single private firm. 

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Many countries of the Americas have expressed concern over renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate change.  They are committed to dealing with the related problems. On the aggregate level, heads of state from the hemisphere affirmed their commitment to this issue at the IV Hemispheric Energy Ministers Meeting in the Joint Statement on Clean Development and Use of Energy and pledged to make sustainable energy development a reality of the new millennium. Specifically, governments will work to integrate energy, economic, and environmental goals, building on the progress in energy cooperation initiated by the Heads of State and Government in the Miami Summit of the Americas and reaffirmed in the Santa Cruz Summit on Sustainable Development and the Santiago Summit of the Americas.

The Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA) Initiative, a program of the Organization of American States, is working throughout the region to promote environmentally clean development through the use of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. REIA works closely with energy ministers and financial institutions to develop means for implementing programs in these areas. Examples abound throughout the region.

Many countries of the region such as Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico have launched or are continuing aggressive rural electrification programs that rely heavily on the use of renewable energy sources. In the case of Brazil, the Federal Program for State Development (Programa de Desenvolvimento Energetico de Estados e Municipios, PRODEEM) seeks to implement over 9,000 rural community renewable energy projects affecting over two million people in five years. In efforts to minimize the demand for grid-tied, conventional power, the Mexican Comisión Nacional para el Ahorro de Energía (CONAE) is implementing a program plan that focuses on promoting demand side management practices, efficient generation of thermal energy, sustainable transportation, renewable energy, and energy service companies (ESCOs). In the United States, President Clinton challenged and offered incentives to install one million solar energy systems on U.S. rooftops by 2010.

Global Climate Change

The use of renewable energy sources and energy efficient technologies is also related to the climate change provision of the Santiago Declaration. A strategy to address the problem of global climate change is to reduce fossil-fuel emissions through either efficiency improvements or the substitution of other, non-global-warming fuel sources (e.g., solar, wind, hydro). Countries throughout the region are working consistently on issues related to climate change, Joint Implementation, and Clean Development Mechanisms. The following are a few selected examples of the activities being carried out throughout the hemisphere.

For additional information, please see the Hemispheric Energy Initiatives website maintained by the Hemispheric Center for Environmental Technology at Florida International University.  Also see the  Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA) Initiative of the Unit of Sustainable Development and the Environment of the OAS; or the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Hemispheric Energy Steering Committee

The Hemispheric Energy Steering Committee took place in Ottawa, Canada, on May 18-19, 2000.

The Ministers developed three work priorities in that meeting, which are:

  1. Generating a progress report on the actions undertaken to fulfill prior commitments: working groups will need to report on what has been done, as will the countries in charge of the groups;

  2. Exploring creative financing and lending opportunities for sustainable development and use of conventional and non-conventional energy sources: the U.S. Department of Energy and the Inter-American Development Bank are putting together a sustainable development energy fund of US$5 million.  This is for paying feasibility studies or business plans to prepare for future energy protects;

  3. Encouraging the energy business sector established in the Hemisphere to organize itself into a business forum.

Mexico will host the next ministerial meeting in Cancun, February 2001.

V Hemispheric Meeting of Ministers of Energy, Mexico City, Mexico

On March 9, 2001, the Ministers of Energy from the 34 countries of the Summit Process met in Mexico City, Mexico, to discuss various issues pertinent to the energy sector and define actions in support of energy integration and sustainable development in the hemisphere. Among the energy issues discussed, the Ministers considered the international petroleum market and the transport of petroleum, the benefits of natural gas, coal, the electrical industry and its restructuring process and the efficient use of conventional sources of energy. In order to promote greater hemispheric integration, Ministers asked the Steering Committee to develop and implement a work program that defines actions of cooperation that help to eliminate barriers and carry out concrete projects in the energy sector.

The 34 Ministers also recognized the work undertaken by the Coordinating Secretariat in evaluating and facilitating those actions delineated in the Hemispheric Energy Initiative.

Finally, Ministers also worked to compose a paragraph on energy to be included in the Plan of Action of the Third Summit of the Americas. A draft of this paragraph, along with 21 other points on energy, were included in the Declaration of Mexico which was signed by all 34 participants. For more information, please see this Declaration, entitled "Energy: A Crucial Factor for Integration and Sustainable Development in the Hemisphere," along with the meeting's agenda.

The mandates and initiatives pertaining to energy were reinvigorated and fortified at the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas.  For more information on these mandates, and to continue with follow up activities in this area, please click here.

Updated August 16, 2001