BETTING BIG

Panama 2019 | ENERGY & MINING | INTERVIEW

Having invested USD350 million in infrastructure and distribution grids over the last four years, ENSA is now focusing on helping Panama develop sustainable public transportation.

Esteban Barrientos
BIOGRAPHY
Esteban Barrientos Morena has been the Executive President of ENSA since 2015. Previously, he served as executive vice president of Invercolsa, manager of the Gas Business Unit of EPM, and regional manager of Cellstar National Director of Personalized Service, among others. He studied law at the University of Medellín, management at the University of Ceipa, and has an MBA in business administration and management from the School of Business Administration, Spain.

ENSA has been in the market for 20 years; what are some of its recent achievements?

The past two decades presented numerous challenges, but the company came out on top and grew stronger. First, we had to stabilize and modernize the company because it originated in the public sector. We have made an investment of around USD350 million in infrastructure over the past four years and modernized the distribution grid considerably with new and expanded substations. We are continuing our commitment to working with and for the people, both at work and in the wider community.

What is the importance of receiving a BBB investment grade certification from Fitch?

We have grown significantly over the past three years, which confirms our dedication to effective management. The utilities have also been growing, and the company has been posting good results. Due to the overall national rating we did not receive a higher rating, which we merited. Nonetheless, the rating identifies ENSA as a long-term proposition; this qualification helps us considerably in terms of future investments. In fact, we have maintained this qualification for 12 years in a row.

How does this growth translate into investments and national coverage?

The world is changing for energy distribution companies and the sector in general. Our company requires rapid modernization, which we are currently working on. We have been making vital investments in IT to have the tools for a much more automated operation. Additionally, we are in the process of changing our entire operations center and are adapting software accordingly to enhance nationwide service.

What is the significance of the recent opening of substations in Colón?

Colón represents a primary market for us, as we have always believed in its future as an epicenter in the Americas. In the first place, it has beaches, ports, and a logistic heritage. Meanwhile, another beautiful region, San Blas, lies within our concession area, and also has the opportunity to provide electricity to the ports. The project has already begun, and we are building a 140-km distribution grid at a cost of USD5.6 million. We continue to bring quality of life to people, and expect these ports to better receive tourists in what is a vital economic sector.

ENSA recently signed an agreement to implement alternative energies in Panama's public transport system. What are your objectives regarding this project?

We are the leaders in the country in terms of electric mobility, having just signed an agreement with Traservi, the nation's largest transportation corporation. This has led to the launch of seven electric taxis in Colón. As a matter of fact, we have already assembled the service station, and hope to reach 30 facilities by August. This would amount to the largest fleet of taxis and electric public service provision in Central America. Recently, we signed an MoU with MiBus, the main local transportation company in the city, and are working with them to pilot a real-life route for regular passengers. MiBus has 1,400 buses in its fleet, and we hope in the medium term to replace them with electric vehicles.

Do you aspire to enter other markets?

A year ago, we set up a company called ENSA Servicios for the development of electric mobility, solar panels, energy efficiency, technological platforms, and other services. In that context, we serve El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, and Colombia, among others.

What are your goals for 2019?

We are in an important process of transformation. Thus, we have an important commitment to national regulation in delivering the service our people deserve. Wise allocation of resources fosters wealth generation and social development. For this reason, as a leading company our responsibility and contribution are even more
important.