By Alberto Levy
Since mid-2000, Argentina has undertaken a historic and comprehensive strategy to promote sustainable development in the Norte Grande region, one of the poorest areas in the country.
The centerpiece of the strategy is to provide prompt, good-quality, and low-cost sustainable energy that can improve the competitiveness of businesses and spur new economic activity in the nine provinces that make up the region: Catamarca, Corrientes, Chaco, Formosa, Jujuy, Misiones, Tucumán, Salta, and Santiago del Estero.
Toward that end, the government, with support from the IDB, has built a 1,220-kilometer 500 kV-electric power transmission line and associated substations that link the Northwestern and Northeastern regions of Argentina. More than 300 kilometers of provincial and regional transmission and sub-transmission lines have also been built.
The project has enabled ranchers like Pedro Fernández in Chaco Province to cut the cost of bringing water to his cattle because he no longer needs to pump the water using diesel-fueled generators, also reducing the amount of CO2 emissions.
“It completely changed our lives,” he said of the electricity project. “Our water pump costs were very high, and now with electricity, our pumps can run day and night with no problems.”
The government had to clear the right-of-way area for the transmission lines, to offset the project’s environmental impact, the project is planting close to a million native trees. A partnership was developed with stakeholders, including local communities, schools, and municipalities, as well as with local agricultural schools to create and maintain nurseries for native trees.
By investing in critical infrastructure with a sustainable framework to neutralize the impact of its construction, Argentina is providing a much-needed boost to economic and social conditions in Norte Grande while also doing its part globally to protect the environment.