EPM says schedule for 2.4-GW Ituango hydro development could be further delayed

Ituango hydroelectric

Empresas Públicas de Medellà­n (EPM) in Colombia has revealed it could make further changes to the construction schedule of its 2.4-GW Ituango dam and hydro project as it scrambles to meet electricity supply commitments.

According to EPM’s latest forecasts, the project will put its first turbine-generator unit into operation in June 2022, more than three years later than planned. The plant is expected to be operating from four units by December 2023, with the remaining four units slated to come online by 2025.

“[This will] comply with the firm energy obligations assigned by [power and gas regulator] Creg, in the reliability charge auctions in which the project participated,” EPM said in a regulatory filing. “As new impacts or changes in the current situation are analyzed, they will be incorporated into the schedule and new possible scenarios for entry into operation will be established.”

Originally due to begin operating in December 2018, the project has been beset by serious construction problems, which became evident in 2018 and led to fears of a socioenvironmental catastrophe.

EPM now expects the overall cost of the project in Antioquia department to be 18.3 trillion pesos (US$4.8 billion) compared to an initial estimate of 11.4 trillion pesos.

The company said it has so far received US$250 million in insurance payouts, with further claims pending that would “cover an important part of the costs.”

At full capacity, Ituango will generate 13,500 GWh/y, enough to meet around 17% of Colombia’s electricity demand, according to EPM.

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