For more than 30 years, the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) has been at the forefront of regional energy development. From its beginning in 1989 as a nine-member electric utilities modernisation project to its current incarnation as the leading regional association of more than 100 electric energy solution providers, CARILEC has championed the growth and evolution of the regional energy sector. 

The organisation’s strategic approach to creating that growth lies in its commitment to collaboration, which happens to be its primary value, alongside innovation and agility; high ethical and professional standards; and social and environmental responsibility. In recognition of the changing realities of the market and the need to increase regional energy efficiency while reducing dependence on fossil fuels, CARILEC welcomed Independent Power Producers (IPPs) into its membership and onto its board of directors in 2018. It has since continued this collaborative approach to the regional energy transition by creating a new membership category for associate and affiliate members including students, academics, researchers and lecturers. 

While encouraging innovation in the power generation space by inviting new players, CARILEC has been advocating for regional governments to create and implement the policies and regulations required to enhance the regional energy transition towards sustainability. Its partnership with TAPSEC has been a vital part of that effort to drive change. As a member of the programme’s Steering and Technical Advisory Committees, CARILEC had direct input in developing work plans for projects created under TAPSEC’s three main components and direct responsibility for seeing some of them through to completion. 

One of the key projects executed by CARILEC with TAPSEC support was the Electric Utility Benchmarking Study Automation. Implemented in two phases, the project began by updating the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used to assess the operations of regional utilities. The KPI updates included existing utility performance metrics as well as new standards relating to renewable energy, energy efficiency and operational safety and health. The second phase focused on automating the updated KPI framework in a new benchmarking platform. This new interactive platform was built specifically to suit CARILEC’s needs, allowing utilities to accurately measure their performance and regulators to modernise the way they regulate the utilities they oversee. 

Another critical intervention is the Regional Emergency Response Strategy and Action Plan (ERSAP), which was implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as part of a financing agreement with CARILEC. The ERSAP consultancy is directly managed by CARILEC and the project is designed to provide regional utilities with a clear plan for restoring power in the wake of catastrophic events. Developed at the regional level, the document is meant to serve as a guide to allow Caribbean nations to re-establish their infrastructure and recover quickly from the impacts of severe weather.

As part of the utility-driven transition towards more sustainable energy generation, CARILEC worked with TAPSEC to pilot the Integrated Utility Service (IUS) model in Barbados, Belize, Guyana and Jamaica. Through this pilot programme, utilities offered renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions directly to their customers, providing upfront financing, which customers repaid through their electricity bills over time while enjoying immediate reductions in their energy use and costs. Through this project, energy utilities were able to reposition themselves as full-service energy providers while actively supporting the transition towards renewable energy and energy efficiency.

CARILEC also teamed up with TAPSEC to support the Dominican Republic’s drive to transition to renewable energy production through the use of Variable Renewable Energy (VRE). This shift required a comprehensive review of the nation’s existing power system, an assessment of the technical requirements of power generation plants using VRE and the development of new national grid codes designed to ensure the quality and security of the Dominican Republic’s power supply.

The success of each of these projects hinged on the partnerships that facilitated their execution. Dr. Cletus Bertin, CARILEC’s Executive Director, credits the organisation’s collaboration with TAPSEC, GIZ, the CARICOM Secretariat, CCREEE, CROSQ and others as “essential in the accomplishments that were achieved through these projects and other related initiatives”. He describes the collaboration between CARILEC and TAPSEC as “indispensable” and one of “mutual understanding, mutual respect and mutual interest” in terms of the region’s energy transition and in terms of “concerns about sustainability and building greater resilience in the energy sector in the region.”

As TAPSEC comes to a close, Dr. Bertin and his 13-member team are “quite satisfied that the project outputs have been achieved and will be realised in the coming years”. They remain committed to leveraging their collaborative arrangements with their regional partners and membership in order to fulfil their organisation’s mission to accelerate the Caribbean’s energy sector transition through innovation and advocacy.