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Renovables Gets Formal Status

By Lâl Marandin -- Founded in June of 2010, the Nicaraguan Association for Renewable Energy and the Environment, known as “Renovables” is a nonprofit organization whose mission is "to organize and strengthen Nicaraguan actors to expand a fair and efficient use of renewable energy in both the public and private sectors in Nicaragua”. “Renovables” ’ vision is to create impact through projects, national and international partnerships, the development of public policy, dissemination of good practices, scientific research, public awareness and formal education for a sustainable energy future. "

The ultimate goal of its 2015 Strategic plan is to promote the access, production, sustainability and of renewable energy in Nicaragua. “Renovables” proposes the following objectives in the short and medium term:

• Strengthen the working sector in renewable energy at the national level

• Position the organization at the national and international level

• Promote changes in Nicaraguan law and regulations to better incentivize renewable energy for domestic and corporate uses

• Create a project portfolio to involve all member organizations.

As of the fall of 2011, “Renovables” is comprised of more than 30 institutions that promote, support or implement clean energy project in Nicaragua, utilizing all possible sources of renewable energy: hydro, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.

The Association aims to contribute, in collaboration with the public and private sectors, to maximize the use of the country's renewable energy potential, and to increase renewable energy’s contribution to the energy portolio, in alignment with the National Administration’s “National Energy Strategy”.
The founders of "Renovables", June 17th, 2010

What the “Personería Jurídica” is and why it’s a big deal

Obtaining “Personería Jurídica” means filing and being awarded a legal status as a nonprofit in Nicaragua. It requires a majority vote by the National Assembly (Congress) and is a process that can take up to five years.

Three major factors made it very important for “Renovables” to obtain it as quickly as possible, but also made it complicated:

1) Nonprofits in Nicaragua have been under very strict surveillance since the start of the new Ortega Administration in January 2007. There has been increased controls and audits of many nonprofits, especially those receiving funding from international or multilateral aid agencies.

2) Adding to the tension, the energy sector is absolutely strategic for Nicaragua, a country that doesn’t currently own fossil fuels reserves and has the most expensive electricity in Central America. The government and its Ministry of Energy and Mines play a central role, and debates on energy prices and strategy are constant in the media.

3) Large private energy groups have gained a very strong importance in the country. Some of them had a tendency to shift the legal and political weight towards their specific interests. It was key to counter balance their influence and overcome any possible hindrance they could have created, preventing “Renovables” from obtaining the Personería Jurídica.

For these reasons, and many more, it was of paramount importance that “Renovables” be able to legalize its legal status in the country, giving it the ability to speak with a strong a clear voice for the sector it represents.

The catalyzing role of blueEnergy

blueEnergy joined forces with two other Nicaraguan NGOs in 2009 to foster the creation and launch of “Renovables”, and was instrumental in its early growth. Being recognized for that action, blueEnergy was voted Secretary of the Board of “Renovables” at its inaugural assembly, an event that brought together more than 100 key people of the Renewable energy sector and over 50 institutions in June 2010. Taking this responsibility very seriously, blueEnergy appointed Lâl Marandin (blueEnergy co-founder and Managua Office Director) to support the growth of the young and promising association, and provide any needed support.

With the financial support of the “ECNER” project, awarded in March 2010 to blueEnergy (and its partners ATDER-BL and AsoFenix) by the Common Fund for Democratic Governance in Nicaragua, blueEnergy assembled a legal team to achieve the legal status of Personería Jurídica for Renovables.

Since the launch of Renovables in June 2010, Lâl has worked to motivate and coordinate the association’s staff in order to advance the process. This has required constant problem solving and clear decision making to make sure the process did not get derailed. blueEnergy wishes to thank Roberto Sosa, Marlyng Buitrago and Lizeth Zúniga for their support to Lâl and their key role in making this happen for “Renovables”.   

“Renovables” is now an official Nicaraguan Nonprofit!

On September 2nd, 2011, the National Assembly of Nicaragua awarded the Personería Jurídica to “Renovables”. This success happened 12 months exactly after the original filing of the paperwork, which is a very impressive performance given the challenges encountered along the way.

As an example of the challenges, it was ruled at some point in the process by a legal counselor of the National Assembly that private institutions cannot be founders of a non-profit organization. This statement has no legal base in the current nonprofit law #147. The Supreme Council of the Private Enterprise (COSEP), representing the private sector in Nicaragua since 1972, offered its support to “Renovables” to counter the argument, with legal action if necessary. Fortunately “Renovables” was able to resolve the conflict outside of legal action.

“Renovables” will now have to comply with all the required nonprofit regulations in Nicaragua, which is all it has ever hoped for!
Copy of the statement of Personería Jurídica,
awarded by the National Assembly of Nicaragua,
September 2nd 2011

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