On Wednesday, March 7, former U.S. President Bill Clinton was in Haiti to highlight the potential impact solar power could have in a country rich in sun but lacking in electrical infrastructure.

WJC at Mirebalais HospitalPIH’s Jim Ansara, Paul Farmer, NRG’s David Crane, President Clinton, and PIH’s David Walton review plans for the panels from the roof of Mirebalais Hospital.

As part of his trip, President Clinton, Dr. Paul Farmer, and leaders in the field of renewable energy visited PIH’s flagship Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital. Delegates toured the 320-bed, state-of-the-art medical facility, which – when it opens in mid-2012 – will be powered by a field of solar panels lining the 180,000 sq ft facility’s roof. President Clinton singled out the project as a model of what is possible in Haiti – a country still in the early stages of rebuilding after the massive damage of the 2010 earthquake.

solar panel frames on roof of mirebalais hospital

Frames for the solar panels on the roof of the hospital.

After leaving Mirebalais Hospital, the group visited other PIH facilities that also rely on solar energy, including Centre de St Michel in Boucan Carre, the first PIH-supported clinic powered to receive solar panels, an achievement made possible through PIH’s partnership with Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF).

Delegates also saw the recently installed solar panels powering PIH’s Lashto fish farm, a tilapia-growing facility that provides both food and income to a once-impoverished community. Concluding their tour of Central Haiti, the group visited Domond Ecole Bon Berg, one of 19 schools in the area powered by solar energy – the product of a partnership between NRG, a major U.S. producer of green energy, SELF, and PIH.

WJC in women's ward of Mirebalais Hospital

President Clinton tours the Women’s Ward of the new hospital.

This trip provided President Clinton, acting in his role as UN Special Envoy to Haiti, the opportunity to discuss viable business opportunities in Haiti with representatives of the renewable energy industry.

The large-scale introduction of solar power in Haiti would significantly reduce the country’s high energy costs, while potentially making electricity available to a far greater number of people. Only 38.5 percent of Haitian households currently have regular access to electricity according to the World Bank – by far the lowest rate of access in the Western Hemisphere.

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