Government and Policy News, Latin America, New Development

Ecuador “must promote hydroelectric projects,” minister says

“[The obligation of the state] is to ensure that there is sufficient energy supply to promote the development of the country, thus, we must promote hydroelectric projects and anticipate demand, because if we let demand win, we will have to wait at least four years between studies and the start of the works,” said Carlos Perez, Ecuador’s energy and non-renewable natural resources minister.

BNamericas reports Perez made this comment during a hearing before the national assembly’s oversight committee regarding Genefran’s US$57 million, 30-MW Piatua run-of -river hydro project, under construction in the Amazon province of Pastaza.

Last month, the assembly voted to summon the minister and other authorities to report on the project amid allegations that proper public engagement was not conducted, among other irregularities.

Perez highlighted that the project fulfilled all requirements, including prior consultation. Nevertheless, he pledged to facilitate all project information, as well as validate the flow and volume of the Piatua River to guarantee that supply to local communities would not be affected.

He said that the country has recurring dry season cycles, which require the power sector to seek the necessary mechanisms to generate sufficient energy for local supply, as well as export to Colombia, but he added that Ecuador had to import electricity from Colombia during some months in 2018.

For his part, Cristian Aguinda, president of the Piatua river defense committee, argued that the project would reduce flow by 90%. “We do not want the project to be corrected, we want to maintain the river in its natural state and that, rather, the Piatua river be declared as ancestral heritage of Ecuador,” said Aguinda.

Perez announced he will tour the project area as part of an Amazon work visit, which is expected to include the participation of the oversight committee and representatives of communities in the direct influence zone.