Leader Profile: Alberto Levy Ferre, Senior Infrastructure Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank

Strengthening one of the basic pillars of development is what Alberto Levy Ferre is tasked to achieve.

A senior infrastructure specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Levy Ferre focuses on improving infrastructure and providing policy support in the energy sector.

“Electricity has extensive impact in the lives of people and in the competitiveness of a country,” Levy Ferre said in an e-mail.

Reliable energy supply plays an indispensable role in improving the quality of life and personal security, according to Levy Ferre, who previously served as a principal energy specialist at the Andean Development Corporation and the director of government affairs in Enron Corporation.

Recently, Levy Ferre spearheaded the approval of a US$ 40 million IDB credit to help three Dominican power firms – Edenorte, Edesure and Edeste – upgrade their priority distribution circuits to allow for a reduction in technical losses due to deficient equipment and materials.

“Since the distribution companies are the “cash register” in the Dominican electricity sector, the loan’s objectives is to restore the chain of payments in the sector to progressively improve reliability of supply, make the investments needed to upgrade the grid, reduce government subsidies and eventually attract new investments,” Levy Ferre said.

As team leader for the said project, Levy Ferre attends to a handful of tasks such as coordinating different specialists, obtaining information and commitments from counterparts, and presenting the loan to different IDB committees and the board for approval, among others, to complete the project as scheduled.

“Permanent dialogue with sector officials is required, as well as learning about the issues affecting the industry, through news services, conferences and discussions with colleagues at the Bank, other multilateral agencies, and counterparts among borrowers,” Levy Ferre shared.

He also lent his expertise in other power initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean including electricity generation, transmission and distribution projects in Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia and El Salvador as well as the construction of natural gas pipelines in Venezuela.

Among his many contributions to the field of energy development, Levy Ferre considered working on legislative reforms in the electricity sector in various countries –- which were ultimately enacted into law – as his greatest accomplishment as an international development professional.

Given the current economic climate, Levy Ferre said there is a danger to adopt short term energy fixes that “eventually become permanent with the associated increase in costs.”

He said: “Energy infrastructure projects are complex, there are very long lag periods between the moment a decision to invest is made and the moment the project becomes operational, therefore sometimes projects with shorter spans get prioritized.”

Levy Ferre, who has a doctorate in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, hopes to “continue working on legislation to address the new challenges affecting the energy industry” as well as help attract private sector players, remove economic distortions existing in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Paraguay, and develop a well-functioning energy sector.

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