Strengthening Utilities and Promoting Energy Reform (SUPER)

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A small group of people in a poor village congregate casually outside a local shop under electricity distribution poles and a mass of associated wires.
USAID’s SUPER program supports partner country counterparts with priority projects to improve energy sector utility performance.
  • Success Story

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    In some developing countries, the value of the electricity stolen is greater than 1.5 percent of the country’s annual GDP. In Jamaica, USAID has been working with key stakeholders to address this issue. Learn more

USAID’s SUPER program supports partner country counterparts with priority projects to improve energy sector utility performance.

Many developing countries struggle to provide equitable access to reliable, affordable power. Common problems include ineffective and outdated power sector policies and regulations, a lack of operational resilience, utilities that cannot cover their costs, inadequate system planning, and aging infrastructure.

Our Approach

The Strengthening Utilities and Promoting Energy Reform (SUPER) program is focused on addressing key energy sector challenges in USAID’s partner countries related to utility performance, under-investment, legal and regulatory frameworks, sector reforms and cross-cutting interventions.

SUPER works hand in hand with utilities and other energy sector entities to increase electricity access, decrease technical and commercial losses, strengthen human capital and operational practices, plan system expansion, explore new models for private sector engagement, incorporate climate change mitigation, and integrate new technologies.

Building High-Performing Utilities

In many of USAID’s partner countries, persistent underpricing, excessive losses, and failure to collect on bills results in poor financial performance of utilities. These utilities then have limited funds to invest in expanding and maintaining the power system to deliver reliable electricity service. Improving utility performance shortfalls, such as lack of access, service interruptions, high loss rates, and unaffordable electricity, requires a coordinated set of interventions with counterpart utility companies to improve fiscal management, enhance long-term sustainability, and create more inclusive workforces and customer service practices.

  • Utility financial modeling & tariff analyses
  • Customer regularization & metering
  • Expanding access to electricity service
  • Capitalizing on new technologies & trends
  • Enhancing utility organization & capacity building

Designing Strong Legal and Regulatory Frameworks

Market competition and private investment in developing economy energy sectors is often hindered by government control of the value chain (generation, transmission, distribution), opaque regulatory systems, and lack of technical knowledge and capabilities to develop and implement competitive investment mechanisms. These constraints increase market inefficiencies, electricity generation costs and electricity prices—and result in the failure to take advantage of declining technology costs for renewable resources such as solar, wind, and energy storage. Designing strong legal and regulatory frameworks that can enable efficient markets involves working with policy makers and regulators to optimize market models, improve sector financial performance, enhance regulatory frameworks, increase transparency, and promote private investment.

  • Designing new market structures
  • Developing legal & regulatory frameworks
  • Designing models for private sector participation
  • Strengthening corporate governance

Identifying and Advancing Sector Reforms

Utility and government leaders often lack the data, technical knowledge, commercial experience, or institutional resources needed to tackle significant sector reforms. Identifying and advancing sector reforms focuses on co-creating support mechanisms and solutions with USAID and partner countries, often before a work assignment formally begins.

  • Developing sector assessments and strategies, plans and roadmaps to diagnose key issues and challenges in the sector
  • Hosting workshops and forums with stakeholders on energy reform issues to better understand issues and coordinate consensus
  • Preparing program designs to facilitate reform and/or evaluations to measure progress.

Undertaking Cross-Cutting Activities that Support Sector Reform

Sustainable and effective reform requires a holistic approach to incorporating social impact considerations and knowledge sharing. Cross-cutting activities that focus on gender equality, environmental and social safeguards, training and skills development, and promoting lessons learned increase the impact of efforts across the other focus areas.

  • Promoting gender equality in energy sector services and operations
  • Promoting environmental & social inclusion leading practices within sector reform
  • Training and technical assistance for counterparts on new approaches, technologies, and operational models
  • Publishing leading practice reports, materials, and media on sector reform issues

Resources

  • Program Presentation

    Strengthening Utilities and Promoting Energy Reform

    In addition to the program’s primary focus areas, SUPER can support emerging areas of importance in the energy sector such as cybersecurity, climate change, diversity equity and inclusion, and private sector investments. View the presentation

  • Tools

    Explore USAID’s Energy Toolkits for interactive training modules and case studies on making utilities smarter and more effective. Browse the tools

  • Our Work

    SUPER builds upon the successes and lessons learned from USAID’s Sector Reform and Utility Commercialization (SRUC) Program. Explore our work

  • Utility Reform Stories and Lessons Learned

    Electricity sector reform involves numerous actors, approaches, and technologies. The following case studies highlight successful utility turnaround programs, focusing on what made them successful, and lessons learned from their reform process. Learn more

Last updated: August 05, 2021

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