Chile approves environmental report on 531-MW Alto Maipo

The environmental regulator for the Santiago region has approved conditionally the environmental impact studies submitted for the 531-MW Alto Maipo hydroelectric project proposed for Chile’s Maipo River Basin.

La Comision Regional del Medio Ambiente de la Region Metropolitana (Corema) said March 26 that its board approved the environmental studies 16-1 with four abstentions. Corema said the project developer, utility AES Gener, must meet several conditions reflected in Chile’s environmental qualification resolution.

AES Gener, a subsidiary of AES Corp. of the United States, is developing Alto Maipo with water utility Aguas Andinas, with an investment of US$700 million.

To be built in Chile’s Metropolitan Region, Alto Maipo is to include two run-of-river underground powerhouses, 275-MW Alfalfal 2 in the Colorado River subbasin downstream from Alfalfal 1, and 256-MW Las Lajas near the confluence of the Maipo River and El Manzano marsh.

AES Gener named Norplan of Norway to provide design and procurement services for the project in 2008. (HNN 4/21/08) Norplan was named international specialist within the sectors of tunnel works, mechanical equipment in powerhouse caverns, and electrical equipment.

Alto Maipo includes 65 kilometers of headrace, tailrace, and access tunnels; 2.5 kilometers of pressure, surge, and cable shafts; and the underground powerhouses. Pelton turbines were selected because of high heads of 1,160 and 483 meters and heavy silt exposure in the region.

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