640-MW Cuervo hydroelectric plant gets go-ahead from environmental commission

COYHAIQUE, Chile 5/10/12 (PennWell) — Chile’s Environmental Evaluation Commission has approved the 640-MW Cuervo hydropower plant on the Cuervo River in Chile.

Energia Austral anticipated approval of the project some time in 2011 when it submitted the project for environmental evaluation in August 2009, although four rounds of review by various Chilean agencies delayed the go-ahead.

The company says previous environmental impact assessments found that the US$735 million project could have potentially negative environmental and economic impacts, although those have been addressed.

“We have carried out a rigorous and transparent evaluation process of which we are proud, providing early information to the community and adhering full to Chile’s environmental regulation,” says Energia Austral General Manager Alberto Quinones.

The project envisages the construction of two concrete dams on each of the branches of the Cuervo River. They will form a reservoir linking the Yulton and Meullin lakes, flooding an area of 5,863 hectares. Construction of the project is expected to take 56 months.

The Cuervo hydropower facility is one of four projects being developed by Energia Austral. The company’s 375-MW Blanco, 54-MW Condor plant and a transmission line are also in the works.

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