Electric Companies Join in Initiative to Bring Energy to Poorer
New York, 24 September A ten year old organization of nine electric
utilities in Japan, Europe and North America, the "e7," entered into
a series of agreements with the United Nations and its agencies during the
World Summit on Sustainable Development aimed at expanding access by the poor
About two billion people, or one third of the world's population, presently
lack access to electricity or modern energy services and rely on burning
firewood or biomass to meet their cooking and heating needs. Meeting the energy
needs of these people with modern energy services was a major issue at the
Summit, and governments committed themselves to "improving access to
reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and
environmentally sound energy services and resources."
In addition, several donor governments such as the United States and the
European Union announced major initiatives in Johannesburg to expand energy
access and to increase the use of renewable energies, and a number of voluntary
partnerships were launched by governments, NGOs, intergovernmental
organizations and businesses.
The "e7," which was formed during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro
to support sustainable development, has embarked on 100 projects and activities
of various sizes to bring electricity to areas where there was none. In
addition to an umbrella agreement between the UN and the e7, memoranda of
understanding were signed with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Industrial
Development Organization as part of an effort to tap the expertise of
international organizations that have experience in pursuing projects in
"Through its myriad initiatives and tireless efforts, the United Nations
has accomplished a great many victories," said e7 Chairman E. Linn Draper
Jr., who is also chairman, president and chief executive officer of American
Electric Power. "It is with great hope for the future that the e7 signs
this umbrella agreement with the United Nations."
Johannesburg Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai called the new partnership
collaboration between the UN and the e7 a significant outcome of the Summit
that could ultimately produce major results. "We have two billion people
living in what is essentially a pre-industrial energy age. We can't rely on
only pilot projects or small scale projects to bring clean modern energy
services to these people. We have to think big and work with the people who
have the expertise, which is largely in the private sector."
To channel funds raised from internal and external sources to support selected
e7 sustainable development projects in developing countries, the "e7
Fund" was created in 1998. According to Marie Nguyen, spokesperson for the
e7 Fund, said, "Our expertise, our area of competency is in providing
electricity. We need the help of the UN and NGOs who are working on the ground
with the local population and the host governments."
She explained that the members of the group were committed to identifying new
projects and pursuing feasibility studies. These studies, which she said often
cost more than $1 million, are necessary to attract capital and financing, such
as from regional development banks.
The new collaborative effort is also expected to identify possible projects
that would qualify under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism,
where companies in richer countries could offset their emissions by financing
greenhouse gas mitigating projects in developing countries. The mechanism is
intended to provide an incentive for investments in clean energy for developing
"One major problem about providing energy for all is that no one is
investing in developing countries," according to Kui-nang Mak, Chief of
DESA's Energy and Transport Branch.
"Johannesburg affirmed that there is a growing recognition that for
sustainable development to occur in an accelerated way, electricity needs to be
installed early," according to Paul Loeffelman, Director of Environmental
Policy of the American Electric Power, a member of the e-7.
Loeffelman said that it was necessary for the electric utilities to have a
closer relationship with the UN, the banking industry, NGOs and developing
countries in order to create a market for the commercialisation of electricity
in order for the private sector to provide energy. "We have to challenge
countries to establish financial frameworks that will raise the capital for
projects to be undertaken." He said investments of between $140-$500
billion were needed to provide everyone in the world with electricity.
The nine members of the e7 include AEP (U.S.), Electricité de France
(France), Enel (Italy), Hydro-Quebec (Canada), Kansai Electric Power (Japan),
Ontario Power Generation (Canada), RWE (Germany), ScottishPower (UK), and Tokyo
Electric Power (Japan).
Copyright © United
Department of Economic and
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24 August 2006