FOCUSING ON RENEWABLES

Colombia 2018 | ENERGY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Astrid Álvarez, President of Grupo Energía Bogotá (GEB), on green energy, keeping up with OECD standards, and sustainable public transport.

Astrid Álvarez
BIOGRAPHY
Astrid Álvarez holds bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Universidad Javeriana, a specialization in environmental engineering from Universidad de los Andes, and an MA from Ohio University. Before assuming the position as Energía Bogotá’s President in 2016, she earned over 30 years of experience across various positions in prestigious organizations, including leading roles in Bogotá’s water and sewage company and Ecopetrol.

What have been the main highlights of 2017 for Grupo Energía Bogotá?

We continued reinforcing corporate governance in our company. It was extremely important for us to accomplish our goal of implementing 92% of the recommendations made by the OECD on Corporate Governance standards. This is an excellent base for companies to develop their business plans. It also shows our investors that management is aligned with the best international standards.

How much did Grupo Energía Bogotá's profit increase in 2017, and what dividends will it pay out to shareholders this year?

Grupo Energía Bogotá had remarkable results in 2017. We reported consolidated net income of USD525.7 million, that is up 16.4% from 2016. Moreover, we will distribute dividends of more than USD350 million, the highest in GEB's history, with a dividend yield of 5.7%.

What strategies were behind the company's new rebranding, and what is its growth strategy for 2018?

The market is not aware that we are a holding corporation. Our first message to the market is that we want to be recognized as a group of companies working at high corporate governance standards, like that of the OECD, while also caring for the environment and the communities that surround us. We are aiming for growth in 2018 in different countries such as Brazil, where there is a massive market for transmission and renewable energy. We are also considering the potential to make new investments in Mexico and expand business in Colombia where renewable generation will be a goal for 2H2018. We seek to develop large and strategic natural gas projects like the regasification plant at Buenaventura on the Pacific Ocean. Cálidda, a GEB company, is helping us expand operations in Lima, where we also seek to develop business with the industrial sector. Our new focus on the commercial areas has resulted in restructuring Cálidda in Peru and TGI in Colombia.

How is the region positioned for renewable energy?

Renewable energy offers a fantastic opportunity for GEB to generate energy from non-conventional sources, particularly, solar energy. Our group is a pioneer in renewable energy; we began generating hydroelectric energy more than 120 years ago. Through our associate Emgesa, we are one of the main electric power generators in the country, positioning us as number one or two in the Colombian market. Mexico and Brazil are also important to us, and we share the Colombian government's goal to increase electric power generation with green energy.

What position is Grupo Energía Bogotá taking in terms of educating the public on a more sustainable electricity sector and environment in Colombia and in the region?

We have many projects across Colombia and the region, and we develop social programs to care for the communities affected by those projects. Now, we are better-known for developing sustainable energy projects in the sector. One of the main targets of our organization is to use natural gas. TGI is our main gas transportation company in Colombia. Using our companies and developing strategic alliances, we foster the growth and increase our natural gas market share.

How is Colombia positioned to meet national standards for emission targets?

We have worked hard, but there is still room for improvement. For example, in Bogotá's mass transportation systems we must use the Euro Six technology. Our responsibility as an energy sector leader is to assist authorities and promote cleaner and more efficient energy sources. We can only provide a technical perspective, but final decisions are made by the city authorities.

What are your expectations for 2018?

GEB is shifting from a municipality-owned entity to a private company that return cash dividends to its shareholders. The city, our controlling shareholder, has decided to divest 20% of its holdings in GEB; thus, we are working hard to show the market that we are an excellent group of companies. The city and its people need to commit to the GEB's Corporate Governance guidelines.