Submitted by: Rural Alternative Center of El Limon, centro alternativo rural el limon (CAREL)
Implemented country: Dominican Republic
Title: Community Hydroelectricity in the Rural Dominican Republic
Nearly 15%, that is 1 million people, in the Dominican Republic have no access to the public power grid and the future concerning this matter doesn’t look promising at all. Electricity is generated by oil and demand is on the rise, as are prices. If circumstances permit, small hydropower plants seem like the most suitable solution. Under the dictatorship of Trujillo such power plants were forbidden under the threat of imprisonment because there was no way the government would have been able to control the use of technology. Since then, Jon Katz and his Centro Alternativo Rural El Limon, for short: CAREL, have been working on teaching people in rural settings about options concerning renewable energies and how to build and service such plants.
Particularly rural mountain villages with 40 to 120 households are the perfect customers for such small hydropower plants. The costs for one plant are only at around USD 40,000 to 60,000, which is also the biggest obstacle. Still, in the years from 1998 to 2005, three such power plants were built, even in a region that can only be reached by pack mule, and three additional projects are in planning. In sum, CAREL has given financial support to 15 such power plant projects.
In Jon Katz’s opinion and apart from financial matters, the biggest obstacles are educating and training the local population. That’s why Jon built a training center where he teaches operation and maintenance of small power plants. Once people are trained, construction can begin and maintenance turns into a joint effort. In order to provide access to clean energy for the people of his country, Jon is now working an expanding the training center and trying to find new financial backing.
“Let’s get it done!“