The Business Year

Juan Ricardo Ortega

COLOMBIA - Energy & Mining

Juan Ricardo Ortega

CEO, Grupo Energí­a Bogotá


Juan Ricardo Ortega is an economist from Universidad de los Andes. He has a master’s degree in economics, finance, and math from Yale University and is currently a doctoral candidate in economic development at the same university. Ortega previously worked as general coordinator for the Alliance for Prosperity for the Countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington; director of the National Directorate of Taxes and Customs; director of economic studies at the National Planning Department; economic advisor for the President of the Republic; vice minister of finance and commerce; director of the Financial Institutions Guarantee Fund; secretary of finance in Bogotá; professor at Universidad Nacional, Externado, Universidad del Rosario, and Universidad de los Andes, and chief economist at BBVA Colombia.

Grupo Energí­a Bogotá has operations of generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power in Colombia, Peru, Brazil, and Guatemala.

What is the rationale behind the merger with Enel, and what business development advantages will it bring to the company?

We were partners with Enel not only in energy distribution but also in energy generation in Colombia through Codensa and Emgesa, which before the operation used to be part of our business portfolio as non-controlled companies. Our growth rate was stalled, and current business trends were clear on the need to invest in renewable energies and sustainable development, lines of businesses that were not fully prioritized in our corporate strategies. Meanwhile, Enel started up a new company to enter the renewables market to address the potential of sustainable development trends and to transform it into business opportunities. As a result of such context, we agreed to undertake a stock exchange operation that gave birth to this brand-new company, ready to undertake the challenges ahead. This operation is a turning point for GEP since we now have the opportunity to be aligned with market trends focused on climate change and considering sustainable development as our core business. With this new partnership, GEP now has competitive advantages that will allow us to manage our indebtedness in an optimal way. We have agreed on the need for systemic growth and to invest in renewable energy. The new company have acquired the financial capability to leverage about USD800 million for new projects to be developed mainly on La Guajira for wind and solar energy. We have also agreed on the fact that it was reasonable to have better distribution of income to duly address climate change issues.

What impact are renewables and data analytics having on the energy industry, and what role does Grupo de Energí­a de Bogotá seek in Colombia’s energy transition?

The market has changed. For example, consumers have also the chance to become generators with solar panels being installed widely. New regulation trends to support energy transition shows us that energy prices will be based on different time schedules. Energy stock by means of batteries will increase and people will shift from oil and gas vehicles to electric movility. These new consumer trends will result in new more accurate planned energy consumption market. It is a vital need for GEB to understand these market trends and shift its core business accordingly. Companies will also need to become more competitive by integrating operations. We hope to be the one building the energy transmission infrastructure for new energy renewable sources. Our strategic plan clearly states our intention to invest in our partner to focus on energy distribution and generation, and to specialize in transmission. The more the country invests in renewables, the more infrastructure will be needed to bring this energy to the final user by means of the national distribution system. New technologies, for instance that will allow to be used by direct current, will be critical. With this new operation, GEB can also prioritize it support the development of the city of Bogotá. We are committed to air quality of the city, shifting oil vehicles to electric ones, and supporting the new subway system and other forms of transportation such as electric scooters and bicycles. Still, by far we have a great deal of work to do toward air quality. Enel’s technology and infrastructure for public illumination and energy distribution can have 50,000 units of air quality monitoring throughout the city in real time. Having this data allows to know which companies are not fulfilling their obligations. In addition, without a doubt AI and analytical data is the present and the future. A city produces vast quantities of actionable data, and with the operation the new company will be able to capture value on this this. In this direction, we became partners of Ágata, a new company focused on data analytics of valuable public goods for Bogotá initially. It is set to create many business opportunities for the city and GEB.



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