septiembre 23, 2015

Local energy management in Chile

The “Comuna Energética” Program has as objective the evaluation, ranking, and accrediting of the degree of local-scale energy development of a municipality or commune. That is to say, a town’s ability to plan, develop and implement projects that promote energy decentralization with the incorporation of renewable energy and efficiency in its use. The project is possible because of the close collaboration between different actors in civil society, the public sector, and the private sector.

The Swiss consultancy Ernst Basler + Partner (EBP) and Fundación Chile (FCh) successfully led the process of adjustment, planning and innovation of this instrument adapted from the Swiss.

“Energiestadt” Program. Cooperation took place between the Energy Ministry, the Environmental Ministry, the Housing and Urbanism Ministry, the Asociación Chilena de Municipalidades (AChM, accronym for Chilean Association of Municipalities), the Asociación de Municipalidades de Chile (AMUCH, accronym for Municipalities Association of Chile), the NGO WWF and the AVINA Foundation, along with the support of the Swiss Embassy in Chile.

So far, several municipalities in the country have implemented or are implementing the Energy Ministry’s first step of this program. Vitacura, Frutillar, Antofagasta, Caldera, Monte Patria, Peñalolén, Temuco, and Coyhaique are some valuable examples of energy management empowerment through municipalities. After analyzing the energy scenario and estimating the potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency that can be applied in their territory, they defined an energy vision and an action plan that actively involved the local community.

An important part of this initiative is the completion of concrete projects in order to fulfill this vision. To give a few examples, EBP has started, together with FCh, Vitacura’s “Solar Techo 30+”, which seeks to encourage property owners to acquire and install together at least 30 solar systems at the same time, at a price 30% lower than the market rate.

In Temuco, with financing from the Swiss Embassy, the “Energía para Todos” Program is being implemented, drawing on the ideas from the “Las Vertientes del Carmen” neighborhood association to improve their quality of life, particularly in relation to air pollution. In Coyhaique, where pollution from fine particles is especially severe, we started a biomass center that ensures a supply of high-quality firewood and chips.

Additionally, in the same city of Coyhaique, EBP carried out an energy diagnostic of Colegio Baquedano which revealed mediocre thermic conditions and extremely high energy costs. With the collaboration of EBP and the support of the Swiss Embassy, funds were raised from the Education Ministry, the Environment Ministry, and the Energy Ministry, to change the old wood-burning boiler at the school for a more efficient wood chip unit, the first boiler in the region to burn wood chips. Also, the building’s surroundings were entirely improved along with the heating circuit insulation, which will lead to major savings for the school.

More information about these projects or about EEL: