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Haiti: A Pathfinder to Post-Earthquake Responses for Environmental and Natural Resources

Haiti's Energy Resources

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Compiled by: 3rd year University of South Carolina Law Student Katherine M. Malloy.


Haiti's energy resources are limited and the country, prior to the earthquake, relied on imported petroleum and unstable electrical generating stations to provide electricity. Post-earthquake little is known about the current status of Haiti's electricity generation and transmission facilities. The country is ripe for changes to be made in its energy sector.

Background Information on Haiti's Energy Sources and Electricity Production

energy-electric-2A very small portion of Haiti's population had access to electricity prior to the earthquake. One source estimated that only 12.5% of the 9 million people living in Haiti have access to electricity. Most rural areas have very little electrical capability with Port-au-Prince being the area that has the greatest level of access to electricity. Haiti has a national electricity company, Electricité d'Haiti, which was created in 1971 to control generation and distribution of electricity. In 2006, total installed capacity was 270 MW, of which about 70% was diesel oil-fired thermal and 30% hydroelectric. The hydro-electric plant's capacity is dependent upon the seasons, which capacity much lower in the dry season. The thermo-electric plants appear to be run on imported petroleum. This system of electricity generation is not well connected to the country's provincial areas at present. One source indicated that about a third of electricity is obtained illegally by users. This system of electricity is unreliable, even if services are available, and most businesses and private residences, that can afford to do so, rely upon the use of small diesel generators to serve as an alternative source of power.

energy-electric-1The Energy Information Administration reports that Haiti does not produce any oil, natural gas, or coal. Haiti imported approximately 14 thousand barrels of oil per day in 2008. Haiti does not have any proved reserves of oil or any refinery capacity. Haiti also does not have any proved reserves of natural gas. Haiti does not have any nuclear power production. In 2008 Haiti generated .55 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and consumed .33 billion kilowatt hours.

energy-oceanWood is the principal energy source for the majority of Haitians, accounting for 75% of the nation's energy consumption. The reliance on wood for a fuel source has resulted in severe deforestation of Haiti; with one source estimating 6,000 hectares of soil are lost each year to erosion.

Little is known about what damage the earthquake has done to the electrical generating and transmission facilities in Haiti. But given that the country's electrical system was not functioning well before the earthquake, it is reasonable to assume that the country will require assistance in building a whole new system. Nations that are responding to aid Haiti following the earthquake will require energy sources for and large machinery and emergency stations. Generator power will likely provide much of the electricity needed for recovery efforts in the short term.

Possible Ways Forward:

energy-windGiven the geographic limitations, and the lack of natural energy resources, the nation is well suited for the implementation of renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power. One way forward may be for small, localized energy initiatives to be set up by non-profits or businesses. The Haitian government pre-earthquake may not have been adequately equipped to implement and manage a wide-scale nationwide electricity distribution system. The best chance for successful implementation of renewable energy production facilities is for small test sites to be implemented to see what works for the geography and the people of Haiti. Wind energy may be a solution in some areas of Haiti and a small wind turbine program may provide enough power for a small town. Solar power could be implemented for some major facilities in Port-au-Prince and this would relieve pressure on the energy infrastructure already in place.

Haiti's Law:

energy-solarArticle 255 of the Haitian Constitution states that in order "[t]o protect forest reserves and expand the plant coverage, the State encourages the development of local sources of energy: solar, wind and others." Chapter two of the Environmental Decree declares, in Article 29, that "[e]nergy for sustainable development" is a priority program for the period 2005-2020. There is no further mention of energy or power production in Haiti's Constitution or the Environmental Decree. Although, the Environmental Decree states in Article 84 that the "Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Economy and Finance will set the legal and administrative procedures required for the functioning of markets for pollution emission permits, certificates of emission reduction (for reducing emissions of CO2), for the use of environmental resources or natural." Article 109 asserts that "[t]he exploiters of mineral and hydrocarbon concessions have the responsibility of following the national regulations and standards established for pollutant emissions." Furthermore, Article 134 provides that "buildings, farms, commercial establishments, industrial or craft, vehicles, combustion machinery or other equipment used by any person in national territory must comply with the technical standards on gas emissions in force."

For Further Information:

Photo credits: Search.USA.gov.


This project was researched primarily by the Spring 2010 Environmental Law Seminar students at the University of South Carolina School of Law: Victor A. Dorobantu, Erin Kee, Daniel Y. Lee, Katherine M. Malloy, W. Guy Quinn, William R. Timmons IV, Amanda B. Turner. They were supervised by Professor Kim Diana Connolly, and assisted by librarians Terrye Conroy, Rebekah Maxwell and Stephanie Marshall. Coordinating partners were certain staff of the Environmental Law Institute, Konpay, the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Technical assistance with web design was provided by USC School of Law webmaster Tobias Brasier. All questions or comments regarding the pathfinder should be directed to Professor Connolly. Broken links should be reported to lawweb@law.sc.edu. This website is NOT intended as legal advice, and particularized analysis by professionals should be sought wherever appropriate. It is current as of March 26, 2010.