Bolivia (2012)

Source: REEEP Policy Database (contributed by SERN for REEEP)

This policy & regulatory overview is not updated anymore since 2015. We decided to keep it online due to high demand but would like to make you aware of the fact that it might be outdated.

Energy sources

Total installed electricity capacity (2007): 1.4 GW.
Thermo-electricity (mostly natural gas): 58,95 %
Hydro-electricity: 39,32 %
Biomass: 1,73 %

Installed hydroelectric capacity in 2005 was 480 MW, distributed amongst some 21 facilities most of them located in La Paz and Cochabamba. The largest plants are the 93 MW Santa Isabel, 54 MW Corani and 51 MW Yanacachi Norte.

Bolivia has the second largest proven reserves of natural gas in Latin America.

Close Energy sources


Bolivia’s electricity imports are fairly restricted. From Brazil, they amount less than 0.01 TWh per year and have been devoted to supply the city of Puerto Suarez, in the Department of Santa Cruz.

Imports of oil are required to meet the increasing energy demand.

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Extend network

National electrification rate (2005): 67%
In urban areas: 85%
In rural areas: 38%.

The government has implemented the program “Electricidad para Vivir con Dignidad” which expects to cover the electricity needs of 53% and 97% of rural and urban population up to 2010.

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Capacity concerns

The country’s energy needs are growing consistently and, according to the demand projections prepared by the Superintendence for Electricity (SE), the generation capacity will be insufficient.

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Renewable energy

Despite Bolivia’s vast hydro-electric potential, this resource has not been fully exploited.

The potential of decentralized electricity systems (i.e. solar, wind, etc.) for disperse populations was recognized by the government in the Plan Bolivia de Electrificación Rural (PLABER) launched in 2002.

The World Bank is financing a rural infrastructure project in Bolivia which, among other things, plans to install 17,000 solar home systems. Another project funded by the Global Partnership on Out-based Aid which is administered by the World Bank intends to scale up the installations by an additional 7,000 by the end of 2012.

There is good potential for renewable energy derived from by-products of sugar cane and wood industries.

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Energy efficiency

Energy Efficiency levels are relatively good in Bolivia, an example is the saving of about 100 megawatts (MW) from the use of energy-saving light bulbs following a 2008 campaign to replace traditional incandescent bulbs.

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Electricity market
In 1994, Bolivia privatized the state-owned electricity system, unbundling generation, transmission, and distribution activities. The law forbids any single company from operating in more than one of these activities.

There were eight generation companies serving the National Interconnected System - SIN in 2008. Of these, the largest is the Compañía Boliviana de Energía Eléctrica – COBEE, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Globeleq. COBEE serves the region surrounding La Paz. Other important generating companies include Empresa Eléctrica Guarachi S.A. – EGSA and Empresa Eléctrica Corani – CORANI, majority-owned by Duke Energy. These three companies controlled 70% of the total gross electricity generation in Bolivia in 2007.

Currently, there are two transmission companies in the SIN, Transportadora de Electricidad (TDE), owned by Spain’s Red Eléctrica de España (REE), and ISA Bolivia, which was created in 2005. ISA Bolivia, which runs 53% of the transmission network in Bolivia, is a subsidiary of Interconexión Eléctrica S.A. (ISA), a corporation controlled by the government of Colombia.

In the distribution sector, six companies are active, the largest being Electropaz, majority-owned by Spain’s Iberdrola. Other large distribution companies include Empresa de Luz y Fuerza Eléctrica Cochabamba – ELFEC, a subsidiary of PPL Global until 2007, and Cooperativa Rural de Electrificación – CRE. Combined, Electropaz, ELFEC, and CRE held 85% of the power distribution market in 2007.
Hydrocarbons and natural gas markets
Up to year 2006 this market were dominated by foreign companies. However, in 2006 the new government passed a Law to nationalize the hydrocarbons and natural gas companies operating in the country.

Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) is the sole national authority to perform the activities of the hydrocarbon chain and marketing.

In 2008 the Empresa Boliviana de Industrialización de Hidrocarburos (EBIH) was created by Decree to industrialize hydrocarburns.

Close Ownership


Competition between electricity generators to supply electricity distributors via long-term contracts supplemented by a small competitive spot market.

Competition between generators and distributors to supply electricity to energy intensive consumers.

Close Competition

Energy framework

In 2002, the government established Bolivia’s Rural Electrification Plan (PLABER) with the objective of contributing to the socio-economic development of rural areas through access to electricity and its efficient and productive uses. The short-term goal of the program was to make 200,000 new connections within five years (increasing electricity access in rural areas from 23% to 45%).  It had been estimated that, by the end of the program, PLABER would have reached its goals by 70% of the initial objective. However, the model established by this program did not have significant effects in increasing coverage, expanding infrastructure and improving service quality in rural and isolated areas.

Completed in 2005, the PNUD/GEF Project Rural Electrification with Renewable Energy through the Popular Participation Law established 22 electrification projects, providing power to 200,000 households in rural areas, by using Photovoltaic systems (PVS) and Micro Hydroelectric power plants (MHP).

The Decentralized Electricity for Universal Access project funded by the Global Partnership on Out-based Aid and approved in 2007, which is administered by the World Bank, plans to extend electricity access to at least 7,000 poor households.

In 2006, a Law for Universal Access to Electricity (Ley de Acceso Universal) was proposed. Under the framework of this Law, the program called Electricity for a Decent Living has been designed to improve both rural and urban electrification.

In 2008 the Empresa Boliviana de Industrialización de Hidrocarburos (EBIH) was created by Decree to industrialize hydrocarburns.

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Energy studies

  • AMPER-CEDES (Alianzas Múltiples Para Energía Rural). This initiative promotes the creation of alliances and capacity development for the identification, planning and implementation of sustainable energy Projects in rural Bolivia.
  • Sustainable Country Proposal: (Propuesta País Sostenible). It aims to design an action plan and identify strategic alliances necessary to implement sustainable development in the country.
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Role of government

The Ministerio de Hidrocarburos y Energía – MHE (Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy) is responsible for formulating, evaluating, controlling and directing the state policies for the sustainable exploitation of hydrocarbons and energy sources. The MHE has four Vice-Ministries:
- Vice Ministerio de Exploración y Explotación de Hidrocarburos (Vice-Ministry of Exploration and Exploitation of Hydrocarbons) which is in charge of proposing, evaluating and strengthening policies under operating activities and exploration, ensuring the fulfilment of technical regulations and law providing timely, clear and truthful information.
- Vice Ministerio de Electricidad y Energías Alternativas (Vice-Ministry of Electricity and Alternative Energies) which is in charge of establishing policies and designing the regulation for the electricity sector,
- Vice Ministerio de Industrialización, Comercialización, Transporte y Almacenaje (Vice-Ministry of Industrialization, Trade, Transport and Storage), which is in charge of planning, designing. proposing and evaluating development policies on industrialization of refining, marketing, logistics, transport storage and distribution of hydrocarbons and their derivatives.
- Vice Ministerio de Desarrollo Energético (Vice- Ministry of Energy Development) which is in charge of planning, proposing, coordinating and directing the country's energy development policies, promoting the implementation of socio-environmental management standards.

After the closure of the Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible (Ministry of Sustainable Development) in 2006, the Vice Ministerio de Planificación y Medio Ambiente (Vice-Ministry of Land Planning and Environment), within the Planning and Development Ministry, is responsible for formulating plans and policies for the sustainable use of both renewable and non renewable natural resources.

Close Role of government

Energy procedure

  • In 2007, the Vice-Ministry of Land Planning and Environment, through its National Plan of Development, established the Energy Sovereignty and Independence Policy to promote the investigation and sustainable exploitation of alternatives sources of energy, such as hydroelectricity, biomass, wind, etc) by implementing specific programs.

- Evaluation of hydro-electric sources between 2007 and 2010, by ENDE (Empresa Nacional de Electricidad), in order to assess the potential viability of public and private investments:  
- Evaluation and mapping of wind power in the high plateau and valleys of the country between 2008 and 2009,  to determine and plan the extent of investment by state and privates,
- Geothermal Generation Programme between 2007 and 2010.   This programme implements a pilot project in the mine district of Potosi that will generate 120 MW.

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Energy regulator

Electricity Authority (Autoridad de Fiscalización y Control Social de Electricidad) created in 2009.

National Hydrocarbons Agency (Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos) created in 2009.

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Degree of independence

The elimination of the superintendencias and the absorption of these institutions by the ministries causes a loss of independence.

Close Degree of independence

Regulatory framework

No specific legal framework exists although policies and programs on sustainable energy are managed by different government institutions.

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Regulatory roles

Price regulation, licensing, competition protection and enforcement, conflict solution between utilities and, solution of user’s complaints.

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Energy regulation role

Through the “Decreto Supremo 29272 Plan Nacional de Deasarrollo” the government expect to recover the strategic role of the Bolivian State in the sector.

Close Energy regulation role


Banco de Desarollo de America Latina. La Infraestructura en el Desarollo Integral de America Latina. 2011. Available at: [Accessed 17th September 2013]

Organizacion Latinoamericana de Energia. Diagnostico del Sector Electrico en el Area Rural de Boliva. 2005. Available at: [Accessed 17th September 2013]

Hidrocarburos Bolivia. Eficiencia energetica : el nivel Boliviana es acceptable. 19 September 2011. Available at: [Accessed 17th September 2013]

Government of Bolivia. Supreme Decree No. 0111. Available at: [Accessed 17th September 2013]

El Diario. Opinion: Salvemos a la EBIH. 21 August 2011. Available at: [Accessed 17th September 2013]

Ministerio de Hidrocarburos & Energia. Resultados del Programa Electricidad para Vivir con Dignidad. June 2011. Available at: [Accessed 17th September 2013]

Ministerio de Hidrocarburos y Energía. [Accessed 17th September 2013]

Autoridad de Fiscalización y Control Social de Electricidad. Available at: [Accessed 17th September 2013]

Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos. [Accessed 17th September 2013]

Empresa Nacional de Electricidad. [Accessed 17th September 2013]

Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales. Available at: [Accessed 17th September 2013] Close References