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Argentina to resume work to construct 210-MW Portezuelo del Viento hydropower

Argentina’s Mendoza province plans to resume the tender process for construction of the 210-MW Portezuelo del Viento hydropower complex next week, according to governor Rodolfo Suárez.

On Aug. 8, according to BNamericas, the tender’s evaluation commission decided to postpone opening of the technical and economic proposals, originally scheduled for Aug. 11 and Nov. 16, respectively. The commission asked the Malal Hue consortium — comprising Sinohydro, IMPSA, CEOSA and Obras Andinas — to submit more information about the subsidiary companies included in its offer.

Malal Hue submitted the only offer for the project on July 3 in a process that was delayed several times because of funding problems and construction companies’ opposition to the bidding requirements.

“The process continues and next week the second envelope will be opened, with the technical proposal,” Suárez said during a virtual conference held by AmCham Argentina. The opening of the economic offers will be rescheduled for mid-December, he added.

After evaluating the proposals, the government may delay awarding the contract for up to 18 months in order to have more clarity about the federal government’s payment of bonds issued to finance the project, as well as issues with the environmental impact study.

As part of an agreement signed between Mendoza and the Néstor Kirchner administration in 2006, Argentina’s federal government issued US$1.02 billion in dollar-denominated treasury notes last year to back development of the hydropower complex. The next disbursement, of US$78.8 million, is due Oct. 30.

Suárez must also resolve issues related to the environmental impact study. La Pampa province opposed continuing with the tender process and won a vote with the Coirco committee, comprising all the provinces that share the Colorado River basin, to conduct a new wider study, which would include all areas crossed by the river. The province has asked President Alberto Fernández to mediate in the dispute.

Mendoza agreed with Río Negro and Neuquén on an integrated environmental impact study that combines one study conducted by Universidad Nacional de Cuyo with another one by Universidad del Litoral and Universidad de La Plata, instead of conducting a new study as proposed by La Pampa.

Mendoza believes that this new proposal, which the Buenos Aires government also supports, could positively influence President Fernandez to back the idea, ending the dispute, a source close to the Suárez administration said.