ENERGY

Clinton visits wind project

He said such projects make economic and environmental sense.

Temas:

Former United States President Bill Clinton visited a wind project in Penonomé yesterday to tour the facility and to hear about its expansion plans.

The former president is the founder of The Clinton Foundation, which promotes the use of renewable energy.

"(A wind project) works especially well here because the winds begin to blow in December, when the dry season begins. Rather than replacing the lost hydroelectric power with imported fuel, it will be replaced with the wind. This will be better for the environment and will lower energy costs," said Clinton.

In addition, he stressed that all the countries of Central America and the Caribbean are capable of generating electricity on their own by investing in renewable energy.

"It is very important that the people of Panama and Central America take a simple message from this: that this region of the world is very vulnerable to climate change, and countries will benefit more than economically by changing the way in which they produce and consume energy," the former U.S. president said.

Secretary of Energy Víctor Urrutia, who was at the site, stressed that "this park is of the utmost importance" for the energy matrix, since the wind farm can generate between 6 percent and 8 percent of the country's energy requirement. It is expected to be fully operational next year.

According to Ivan Barría, general manager of the electricity transmission company Etesa, Panama will have the capacity of generating 550 megawatts through wind power by 2018.

The current wind farm is slated for expansion, and two more concessions have been granted in the province.

"Two years ago we had electricity rationing," he said. "Thanks to this project and others, we have not had to ration energy this year. Now prices will improve in 2018 and 2019 when more efficient plants enter the market."

Panama will also be replacing its bunker fuel-powered plants with cleaner burning liquefied natural gas.

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