Brazil to decide on repeat hydro concession renewals

Brazil’s energy minister says the government should decide in 30 to 40 days whether to allow renewals for a second time of hydroelectric project concessions that are expiring in coming years.

Technically, projects whose 30-year concessions expire and that have exhausted their permitted concession extensions could return to the control of the state.

“This decision will cover all the concessions of hydroelectric plants heading toward renewal,” Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said June 30.

Threatened concession expirations were seen as the main obstacle to the privatization of hydropower utility Companhia Energetica de Sao Paulo (CESP) in March. (HNN 3/26/08)

Concession licenses for two of CESP’s hydroelectric projects, 1,551-MW Jupia and 3,444-MW Ilha Solteira, expire in 2015, after which they move into uncharted regulatory waters. The licenses had already been renewed once and cannot be renewed again unless the government grants special permission.

Concessions for CESP’s hydroelectric plants are not the only ones about to expire. There are 15,000 MW to 20,000 MW worth of hydroelectric power plants in Brazil whose concessions will expire in the coming ten years or less.

In anticipation of the aborted privatization, Brazil’s Ministerio de Minas e Energia extended CESP’s operating concession in March for the 1,540-MW Sergio Motta hydroelectric project for another 20 years. (HNN 3/19/08) That first-time renewal allows CESP to continue to operate Sergio Motta, previously known as Porto Primavera, until 2028.

CESP’s other hydro projects include 808-MW Tres Irmaos, 86-MW Paraibuna, and 28-MW Jaguari.

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