Central America is preparing to switch on a unified power grid, and is carrying out the final tests before going live in 2012.

The project directors have said that the network of substations and 1800 km high-voltage line linking six countries in the isthmus is 88 per cent complete.

Jose Enrique Martinez of Empresa Propietaria de la Red (EPR), the firm overseeing the SIEPAC project, said: “This is the most important integration project on a global scale.”

EPR is building the regional grid connected to local power networks in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, while a regional agency governed by a board with members from each country will operate the line. Belize, the seventh and smallest nation in the region, is not included.

All the involved governments have approved a treaty to create a single regional energy market with one joint regulator so companies can buy electricity from anywhere in the region.

EPR says the $500m SIEPAC grid will lower generation costs by up to 20 per cent.

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