Ecuador minister stresses hydro’s environmental, social concerns

Ecuador Energy and Mines Minister Alberto Acosta warns hydro project concession holders to ensure their projects comply with environmental and social rights of society.

Acosta met May 21 with executives of hydroelectric projects that have received concessions in recent years from power regulator Consejo Nacional de Electrificacion (Conelec).

The ministry said Acosta sought solutions to constant social problems that seem to accompany hydro development. He said the country requires more electric generation that is socially, politically, and environmentally sustainable.

The minister faced increasing protests from hydro concession holders about the lack of government support to make completion of the projects viable. However, Acosta said the projects’ legal security is intimately tied to their respect for society and its rights.

Acosta said problems multiply for projects with low quality environmental impact studies and bad practices in prior consultation with affected residents. In addition to technical, economic, and legal requirements, he said projects must meet environmental requirements and be accepted by the public.

He said an ample and sincere dialog must be held with affected populations before execution of a project. He added that projects cannot be developed if they obtained concessions with documents that do not reflect the environmental reality of the project zone or they do not meet with communities in a suitable and transparent manner.

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