Brazil agency to appeal injunction against 1,087-MW Estreito

Brazil’s environmental regulator says it will appeal a state judge’s decision earlier this month to halt construction of the 1,087-MW Estreito hydroelectric project in Brazil’s Maranhao State.

Licensing Director Luiz Felippe Kunz of Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente (Ibama) said April 24 that the April 19 decision by a Maranhao judge only froze the works, but did not suspend Ibama’s license given to the project, which should make its resumption easier.

The judge ruled the construction of Estreito on the Tocantins River would cause environmental damage on indigenous Indian lands, which Ibama denies.

The consortium building Estreito will also appeal. The group is formed by Tractebel Energia, the Brazilian unit of France’s Suez, Brazilian mining firm Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, U.S. aluminum maker Alcoa, and local construction firm Camargo Correa. (HNN 3/23/07)

Ibama requires more environmental review of 6,880 Madeira complex

Ibama’s Kunz said he did not expect a license to be granted any time soon for the two-plant, 6,880-MW Madeira River hydropower complex in Rondonia State.

Ibama said potential environmental damage to neighboring countries had to be assessed first, after Bolivian President Evo Morales raised the issue while visiting Brazil in March.

Brazil’s energy regulator, Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica (ANEEL), recently approved feasibility studies for the projects, 3,580-MW Santo Antonio and 3,300-MW Jirau. (HNN 4/3/07) The projects are to have reservoirs of 271 square kilometers and 258 square kilometers.

Kunz, who is about to leave his post on personal request, said the government was pushing hard for Ibama’s approval of some key power projects, but ruled out any immediate approval.

Brazil Mines and Energy Minister Silas Rondeau said in March that a build-operate concession auction for Santo Antonio was expected to be held in July. He had added that Jirau could be offered for concession at the end of 2007 or in early 2008.

The government is considering a bill that would remove the environmental license requirement for “projects of national interest.” A range of planned generation projects is delayed by the long process of obtaining environmental licenses, fueling fears of new shortages in 2010 or later.

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