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Dominican Republic 2015 | ENERGY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Marcelo Aicardi, General Manager of EGE Haina, on being the largest private issuer in the Dominican capital markets and highlights from 2014.

The Superintendency of Securities has recently approved EGE Haina's IPO, and EGE Haina's outstanding corporate bonds amount to $140 million. What investments are being funded at this time?

EGE Haina is currently the largest private issuer in the Dominican capital markets. Over the course of its lifetime, it has structured $280 million in local bonds, including a new $100 million bond that has recently received approval from the local Securities Exchange Commission (Superintendencia de Valores, SIV). EGE Haina is currently developing the new 50 MW Larimar wind project next to the existing Los Cocos wind farm. The new wind farm will be composed of 15 state-of-the art Vestas V112 wind generators, each with a 3.3 MW capacity. This project is expected to be fully operational by 1Q2016. In addition, we are in the process of building a 1.5 MW solar photovoltaic plant in San Pedro de Macorís to be completed in 3Q2015.

EGE Haina is the largest power company in the Dominican Republic by installed capacity. Could you talk us through the technologies and fuels being used in the production of energy at your eight generation plants?

EGE Haina has a finely balanced mix of generation and technologies in its fleet. Firstly, it has 77 MW of environmentally friendly wind power, from 40 wind turbines located on the southwest coast. In terms of thermal power production, the company operates 450 MW of combined cycle diesel engine generation at its Quisqueya Plant near San Pedro de Macorís. The Quisqueya Complex is integrated by Quisqueya 1 and 2, owned by Barrick Pueblo Viejo and EGE Haina, respectively. The engines have complete flex-fuel capability, which means they can run on natural gas, light fuel oil, (LFO/diesel fuel), or heavy fuel oil (HFO). EGE Haina's Sultana del Este Plant has 150 MW of simple cycle diesel engine generation using HFO. Adding to this balanced mix is our Barahona coal plant, which generates 45 MW from a boiler-steam turbine combination. In addition, EGE Haina has a 100 MW simple cycle gas turbine using LFO located at Rio Haina. Rounding off this mix are boiler steam turbine plants located at Puerto Plata, San Pedro de Macorís, and Rio Haina, which use HFO as the main fuel. Finally there is the Pedernales Plant, which uses HFO and LFO as its fuels, and is located on the border with Haiti. Although this plant is relatively small in comparison with the other units in EGE Haina's fleet (only 5.1 MWs in diesel engine generation), it is not insignificant for the people of Pedernales, being the only source of power for the town, and operates as an independent grid.

What have been the highlights of EGE Haina's performance in 2014?

EGE Haina has had an excellent year by all metrics. With the recent addition of Los Cocos 2 (January 2013) and Quisqueya 2 (December 2013), our energy generation has increased from 1,687 GWh in the first 10 months of 2013 to 2,671 GWh in the same period of 2014, on a 58% increase. Year to date, we have posted a record generation of 2,953 GWh, which allows us to provide one-fifth of the KWh consumption of the Dominican Republic. In 2014, the additional generation provided by the Quisqueya complex has reduced the cost of power in the Dominican Republic's wholesale market by approximately 30%, or 5¢/KWh. We also achieved our best heat rate ever at an average of 8,780 BTU/KWh HHV. Similarly, with its wind power production from Los Cocos, EGE Haina has reduced (year to date) emissions by 155,132 tons of CO2 and has saved the country 327,286 barrels of imported fuel. In 2014 we added 1.7 MW of new generation at Pedernales by installing a new Hyundai engine. In terms of health and safety, our performance was excellent, with only two minor lost time incidents for the whole year. With the significant increase in production, one might expect total operating costs to increase as well. Yet to the contrary, through a series of cost-saving measures and the relocation and optimization of resources, total operating costs in the first 10 months of 2014 were only 1.6% higher when compared to the same period of 2013. Most notably, G&A expenses were reduced by 40% in relation to 2013. During 2014 the company concluded the refinancing of a $175 million international bond, which included the issuance of a $100 million bond in the local debt capital market.

EGE Haina has been certified a Great Place to Work and ranked number 12 in the Dominican Republic and 17 in the Caribbean. Could you tell us about company's approach to human capital?

At EGE Haina we are paying real attention to our people's ideas and development. We believe that individuals are the key element for a successful sustainable business. Besides competitive compensation and benefits, we emphasize training for all employees, teamwork, face-to-face communication, and a value-based culture.

“EGE Haina has a finely balanced mix of generation and technologies in its fleet."

What challenges is EGE Haina facing with regard to the power sector, and what initiatives have to be taken to improve sector performance and competitiveness?

The principle obstacle in the electricity sector remains the poor operational performance of the distribution companies, which is characterized by substantial energy losses resulting from electricity theft by end users. This situation has been exacerbated by the increase in fuel prices over the past five years, which has heavily impacted the distribution companies' financial results and ability to pay for energy purchases from generators, such as EGE Haina. We believe that tackling energy theft in the country should be the first priority to achieving sector competitiveness.

As a pioneer and leader in production of renewable energy in the Dominican Republic, could you tell us about your view on the transformation of the national energy sector and your prospects for clean technologies and renewable energy production?

Over the past 15 years, the country's energy matrix has gone from being 90% dependent on foreign oil imports, to being a diversified generation portfolio based on water, wind, natural gas, coal, and only 40% oil. Renewable energy is becoming a significant source of power for the Dominican system. In 2016, approximately 20% of the country's electricity will come from renewable energy sources (mainly water and wind). It is our hope that clean energy will continue to grow as a source of power for the Dominican Republic. At EGE Haina we are investing significant resources in wind and solar energy and hope to continue leading renewable generation in the private sector.

What is EGE Haina's medium-term growth strategy, and what goals has it set for 2015?

We will continue to focus our efforts on sustainably, reducing overall energy production costs, while continuing to invest in renewable energy and improving energy efficiency through wind and solar power investments, and efficient flex-fuel thermal generation.

© The Business Year - January 2015