Chile developer disseminates data on proposed 2,750-MW HidroAysen

Centrales Hidroelectricas de Aysen S.A. (HidroAysen), the joint venture of electricity generators Endesa Chile and Colbun, has launched an ongoing informational campaign in the region of remote southern Chile where it intends to build the five-plant, 2,750-MW Aysen hydroelectric complex.

HidroAysen conducted presentations with regional research center Centro de Investigacion de Ecosistemas de la Patagonia at open houses January 12 in Coyhaique and January 14 in Cochrane.

�This is an activity of dissemination that has as objective to make available to the regional community relevant information from the investigations developed for the elaboration of the environmental impact study of our project,� HidroAysen General Manager Hernan Salazar said.

Groups of scientists presented findings in areas of water quality, vegetation, wildlife, and socio-economic aspects.

�We have made available to the community, through our open houses, all the information relative to the social and environmental characterization of the geographic zone that includes our project, as part of our desire for transparency and openness in the relation with the community and its representatives,� Salazar said.

In October, Chile’s antitrust commission, Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia (TDLC), said HidroAysen could proceed with the US$4 billion Aysen complex if it complied with a series of conditions. (HNN 10/23/07)

The company plans to build two power plants on the Baker River, 600-MW Baker 1 and 360-MW Baker 2, and three plants on the Pascua River, 460-MW Pascua 1, 770-MW Pascua 2.1, and 500-MW Pascua 2.2. The plants are expected to contribute a total of 18,430 gigawatt-hours per year to Chile’s central power grid.

TDLC’s primary conditions relate to a proposed 1,300-mile transmission line to connect the remote hydro projects to Chile’s central electricity grid, which serves the most populous part of the country including the capital Santiago. The commission said the companies must allow bids from third parties who want to use the line.

The antitrust commission also insisted Endesa and Colbun should enter a consultation process before they bid for more water rights in the Aysen region. It also said HidroAysen must remain a publicly listed company.

The project has faced opposition from environmental and community groups who say it would spoil the natural areas in Chile’s mountainous and remote region of Patagonia. U.S.-based International Rivers Network said it is preparing a campaign against the project.

HidroAysen last year proposed a reduction of 36.5 percent in the surface area of the reservoirs for the project, saying it “would maintain the generating capacity by maximizing the hydro resources available in the area, reducing the height of the dams, and building five power plants.” The company indicated the reservoir reduction was possible because the complex now would use five smaller plants, rather than four larger ones originally proposed.

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