Columbian service operators
Image: Minenergia

Afinia and Air-e are the new electricity operators for seven departments in Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region, starting 1 October 2020.

Afinia and Air-e, the two new electricity operators, will be responsible for all supply operations in the region. With more than 10 million inhabitants, it comprises approximately 25% of Colombia’s electricity market.

In addition, the companies will invest CO$8.5 billion (US$2.2 million) over the next 10 years into upgrades of substations and transformers and other improvements in the networks.

“We can say to the entire community of Colombia’s Caribbean coast that a new history of energy service is starting for this region and it starts with team solutions, financial solutions and regulatory solutions,” said Colombia’s President Iván Duque Márquez at the presentation of the two companies.

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“Through this structure we will see in the next decade, starting now with the largest injection in the first two years, more than $10 billion to improve the energy service in the region. Investments of this nature have never been guaranteed.”

Afinia and Air-e take over the market from Electricaribe, formerly a subsidiary of Spain’s Naturgy. In November 2016 Electricaribe was taken over by the government citing deterioration of the infrastructure and deficiencies in service due to financial problems and was then put into liquidation.

Initially the region was put out to tender as a whole for a new operator but was subsequently split into two in a bid to make it more attractive after only one interested party responded.

Afinia, formerly named Caribe Mar, is a subsidiary of Empresas Públicas de Medellín, which now grows its energy market share in Colombia to 35%. Afinia takes over the three western departments of the region, Bolívar, Córdoba and Sucre as well as Cesar with approximately 1.5 million customers.

Air-e, formerly Caribe Sol, is under the control of Consorcio Energético de la Costa, a joint company of Empresa de Energía de Pereira and investment partner Latin America Capital Corp. Air-e takes over the region’s three eastern departments Atlántico, Magdalena and Guajira with approximately 1.2 million customers. With these, Energía de Pereira’s national energy market share rises to 14%.

According to an energy department statement, in the first phase of operations Afinia and Air-e will undertake cross-cutting tasks such as commercial activities and billing through a shared service centre. This arrangement is planned to last for up to two years but may be less depending on the agility with which the two operators can develop these activities independently.

They also will take on all procedures ongoing with Electricaribe, which will now be wound up.