With help from Cuba, Haiti tries a switch to CFLs

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With help from Cuba, Haiti tries a switch to CFLs

When you think of a country trying to switch en masse to compact fluorescents, your first thought probably isn’t Haiti. But that is just what the island nation is in the process of doing with the help of the Cuban government.

At the 5th Alba (Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas) Summit that took place this past spring in Venezuela, the Cuban government pledged 2-3 million compact fluorescent bulbs to aid in energy conservation/management efforts in Haiti and to help combat global warming.

Through a widespread national effort, the Haitian government enlisted the help of the Haitian Boy Scouts to go door to door to exchange incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents.

Boy Scout in Cap Haitien ready to take away wasteful bulbs

Boy Scout in Cap Haitien ready to take away wasteful bulbs. Shirt text (rough translation): Let’s stop wasting electricity. Replace low efficiency bulbs. (Photo Source: SOIL)

Two Boy Scouts in Les Cayes

Two Boy Scouts in Les Cayes, a city in Southern Haiti. (Photo source: Project Espwa)

Sasha Kramer of SOIL, one of AIDG’s partner organizations in Cap-Haitien, reports that the replacement scheme has lead to a decrease in electricity rationing in the city as the stress on the electrical grid has decreased. The residents of Cap that have access to electricity are now enjoying a few additional hours every evening. Cities like Jacmel and Small-Goâve in the south of the country have reported similar positive changes.

Father Marc Boisvert at Project Espwa writes that the lights don’t last as long as they should unfortunately due to frequent brownouts, blackouts and power surges. Hopefully as the rest of the CFLs are distributed and more of the load on the overburdened grid is reduced, the frequency of brownouts will decline as well.

An issue that Haiti will have to contend with as CFLs eventually burn out is proper disposal. As the more efficient bulbs do contain mercury, proper disposal/recycling is key to prevent toxic contamination. It is unclear what plans are in place to deal with this eventuality.

Relevant links (French)

The EDH again able to provide at least 7 to 8 hours of electricity per day in Metro Port-au-Prince
Haiti signs 3 new accords at the 5th ALBA Summit

Update from Sasha. Sadly and ironically, Cap has been without power for the last 5 days. One of the large transformers blew at the main power plant, I believe.

I have never seen the city so dark. It is not the lightbulbs fault…surely….but hard to say how power has improved until we make it through this apparent crisis. Venezuela is financing a new power plant for Cap as well that they have begun work on, but I don’t have the details yet.