Enel in South America: Fighting energy poverty and creating a sense of community

Enel in South America: Fighting energy poverty and creating a sense of community

The Enel Group’s commitment to ending energy poverty has led it to support community projects in Colombia and Chile. This is part of our mission to provide “Affordable and Clean Energy” (UN SDG 7), and create a just and sustainable energy transition. 


The Enel Group is deeply committed to a just energy transition and to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. As a utility, it places particular emphasis on SDG 7, “Affordable and Clean Energy.” According to “Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report 2021”, the number of people without access to electricity worldwide fell from 1.2 billion in 2010 to 759 million in 2019, but the problem is far from solved.


Neighborhoods by Adhesion

The Enel Group is particularly active in projects to alleviate energy poverty in Latin America. In Colombia, for example, the “Neighborhoods by Adhesion” initiative has been in place since 2005. The aim is to provide safe and reliable electricity in low-income areas where residents tend not to comply with urban regulations. Here the communities themselves have often built their own electricity infrastructure and the results can be dangerous. “Neighborhoods by Adhesion” endeavors to improve this situation by designing networks that meet technical standards and where consumers are billed fairly according to their consumption. The project involves identifying neighborhoods that require attention, preparing feasibility studies, working with governmental authorities, planning and carrying out the work, and standardization measurement and metering.


A sense of community

So far, some 26,000 new customers have been legally connected to the grid. The work has been carried out in the Rafael Uribe, Ciudad Bolivar, Usme, San Cristobel and Bosa districts of the capital Bogotà, and in the Soacha, Girardot and Fusagasuga municipalities in the surrounding Cundinamarca Department. But there is plenty more that needs to be done. It is calculated that at least 6,000 users in Bogotà and 600 in Cundinamarca still have unauthorized connections to the grid, and that an estimated 2,200 of them could become compliant. The plan is to make that happen. The project also includes training on such issues as the efficient and safe use of energy, citizenship and project management. By legalizing the energy supply to these areas, communities not only gain access to safe electricity, but they also become more integrated into society.



Safe electricity is also the focus of the “Seguridad Energética en Campamentos” (literally, “Energy Security in Camps”) program in Chile. In this case, we are working alongside two NGOs, TECHO Chile and Litro de Luz (“Liter of Light”), and the local municipality of Maipu, in the southwestern outskirts of the capital, Santiago. In this area, there are two slum settlements, Vincente Reyes and Luna de Haiti. The situation has deteriorated in Chile with the pandemic, which has led to a 225% increase in the number of families living in slums. The aim of the “Energy Security in Camps” program is to provide sustainable energy to residents in these communities. The project includes solar-powered public lighting, social programs and Enel workshops on energy efficiency and electrical risk prevention. So far 685 connections have been made and this has benefited an estimated 2,740 individuals. These results are encouraging. In the words of Jeannette Roa, a community leader in Vicente Reyes, “How can I not be happy? We have made so much progress. I did everything I could so we could have formal access to water and electricity.” These are basic rights for all the world’s citizens and that is why Enel is making every effort to promote a just energy transition.