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FEATURE STORY November 16, 2018

Lighting up Micronesia

On Weno, in the Federated States of Micronesia, streetlighting is improving safety and security across the island. The more efficient and cheaper streetlights will allow residents to walk home safely at night, enable local businesses to operate longer, and make driving at night safer. The World Bank is supporting the government of the Federated States of Micronesia to improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity supply across the country. Through the Energy Sector Development Project, the World Bank is also strengthening the planning and technical capacities at the state power utilities and the national Government of FSM.

World Bank Group


Story Highlights

  • Consistent and affordable electricity is a recurring problem in the Federated States of Micronesia
  • Hundreds of new streetlights have been installed to make roads safer
  • The country plans to reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels and increase access to renewable energy

Until recently, when the sun set over the Federated States of Micronesia, much of the state of Chuuk would go dark.

With a population of just over 100,000 inhabitants and over 3,700 kilometers (2,230 miles) from its nearest market of Japan, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) faces numerous problems related to its small size and isolation. However, one recurring and core challenge facing FSM has been getting consistent, affordable electricity to homes, families and businesses.

Yet the flickering of hundreds of new streetlights across Chuuk’s main island of Weno tell a story: that times are changing.

New streetlights make roads safer

The new streetlights are part of a work between the World Bank and FSM’s Department of Resources and Development in partnership with the state of Chuuk and the Chuuk Public Utility Corporation to power up the state’s main island. The benefits of more efficient and cheaper streetlights are immense. They allow residents to walk home safely at night, local businesses to operate longer, and they make driving at night considerably safer. The World Bank-supported Energy Sector Development Project is supporting the improvement of the generation, efficiency and reliability of electricity supply across the country.

“While each state of FSM is benefiting from the program, here in Chuuk we managed to put just under 400 streetlights right across the system,” explained Mark Waite, former CEO of the Chuuk Public Utility Corporation. “Prior to that there were very few streetlights available.”

The people of Chuuk have noticed the difference.


"The streetlights of Chuuk have improved a lot, which has helped a lot of our staff come to work and walk home at night. It helps everyone feel safe, even when driving."
Courtney Benito
Truk Lagoon Diving Centre in Weno

The streetlights are creating a safer community for residents as well. According to Christina (Kiki) Stinnett, the President of the Chuuk Women’s Council, who says her hope is that, “Streetlights are improving the safety of people walking at night, crime is reduced and people feel free.”

Laying the foundation for future energy plans

The project has also financed energy plans in each of the four states, which contributed to the National Energy Master Plan launched in April 2018. Through this national plan the country aims to coordinate efforts to reduce its reliance on imported fuels, increase access to modern energy services and increase access to renewable energy services by 30% in 2020.

“Helping to deliver efficient and renewable energy in FSM will improve the affordability and sustainability of electricity for families and businesses across the country,” said Leopold Sedogo, Senior Energy Specialist with the World Bank. “Better access to electricity is intrinsically linked to better standards of education, healthcare, gender equality and poverty reduction; all of which will positively impact the lives of the people of the Federated States of Micronesia.”

“Dependency on fossil fuels for power generation is a challenge faced by a number of Pacific Island states.  Fossil fuels are not only expensive for power generation, but also fluctuate in price due to the smaller quantities being purchased; all contributing to higher energy prices for families. In 2005, families in FSM spent an average of 19% of their income on energy – some of the highest rates throughout the region.

“Improving energy services in Micronesia delivers wide ranging benefits for families, businesses, industry and the government. Due to their isolation and low populations, these countries already struggle to reduce poverty, adding high energy prices onto that only complicates things further,” said the World Bank’s Leopold Sedogo.

There is clearly much to be done and the streetlights in Chuuk represent the start of a long-term partnership between the World Bank and the FSM to strengthen the country’s energy sector. 

“I hope that things like this will keep improving for a better and safer Chuuk,” said dive operator Courtney Benito. “Streetlights are a good step for us.”

The $14.4 million Energy Sector Development Project is funded through a grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries, and is being implemented by FSM’s Department of Resources and Development.  A follow-on project to be funded from IDA is under preparation.



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