Chile president helps launch construction of 111-MW Chacayes

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet joined Australian developer Pacific Hydro October 8 to lay the first stone of the 111-MW Chacayes hydroelectric project on the Cipreses River in Chile’s Cachapoal River Basin.

Bachelet said the Chacayes project is one of five hydropower stations to be built by Pacific Hydro in the Alto Cachapoal Valley of Chile’s O’Higgins Region. She said the projects would total 560 MW and represent an investment of US$1.5 billion.

The president said the new projects would generate 4,000 direct and indirect jobs and add basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and communications to the region.

“This demonstrates that we proceed the correct way to solve real problems, promoting new projects, and encouraging the entrance of new actors to the electricity generation sector,” Bachelet said.

Chacayes is to include intake structures, desanding bays, a canal, head pond, six kilometers of tunnels, and two turbine-generators totaling 111 MW. Work is expected to be complete in 2011.

In September, Pacific Hydro awarded a US$282 million contract to Italy’s Astaldi Group to build Chacayes. (HNN 9/24/08) The agreement also calls for Astaldi to build two additional hydro projects for Pacific Hydro, the 184-MW Nido de Aguilas project on the Cortaderal River and the 98-MW Las Lenas project on the Alto Cachapoal and Las Lenas rivers, for a total value of US$600 million.

Nido de Aguilas and Las Lenas are planned to begin operation in 2012, followed by 58-MW Coya 2, an addition to the existing 31-MW Coya hydropower plant Pacific Hydro acquired in 2004 from government-owned copper miner Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco). Those are to be followed by completion in 2014 of 78-MW Las Maravillas on the Cortaderal.

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