Brazil bank could partner with winners of 6,450-MW Madeira plants

The president of Brazil’s development bank says the bank and the national utility holding company could join the eventual concession winners to develop two Madeira River hydroelectric projects totaling 6,450 MW.

President Luciano Coutinho of Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimiento Economica e Social (BNDES) said July 18 that BNDES and national utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras S/A (Eletrobras) are able, in conjunction, to participate in the projects up to 49 percent ownership. However, he said their share in the projects could be smaller.

�We want a private group that is sufficiently robust to have major participation,� Coutinho told the government’s Agencia Brasil.

Brazilian officials said they plan concession auctions in October for the 3,150-MW Santo Antonio project and in early 2008 for the 3,300-MW Jirau project, both on the Madeira in Brazil’s Amazon region. (HNN 7/13/07)

Coutinho said the proposed participation is intended to give financial support to the eventual winner or winners of auctions for the project concessions. He said BNDES would lead in structuring financial arrangements.

BNDES Planning Director Joao Carlos Ferraz said financing of the two plants represents an investment of more than US$10 billion to be guaranteed by receipts from future power sales. He said a BNDES study group has been working with the banking sector to develop a financing structure for the projects.

Brazil’s environmental agency, Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente, issued preliminary permits July 9 for the projects, but set a number of environmental conditions. Since then, the government of Bolivia sent a letter to Brazil complaining that Brazil had made insufficient studies of the projects, which will be built 84 kilometers from the Bolivian border.

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