Ecuador to invest US$300 million a year on new hydro

The government of Ecuador plans to invest US$300 million a year from its energy and hydrocarbon investment fund to build new hydroelectric plants.

Electricity Minister Aleksey Mosquera told Business News Americas the investments will be part of a program to give the government more control over the country’s power system. Investments are estimated to total US$3.5 billion, according to government information.

Private companies that win concessions to build dams are to help finance the projects. Revenue from the plants would go to repay project contractors, with the government then taking over the projects.

The government’s development list includes eight hydropower projects totaling 2,770 MW. The first project is to be concluded in four years.

Projects include:
o 1,500-MW Coca Codo Sinclair, to be built on the Coca River in Napo Province for a total cost of US$1.59 billion (HNN 8/29/07);
o 312.6-MW Sopladora, to be built on the Paute River for US$322 million (HNN 11/1/07);
o 337-MW Minas Jubones for US$552 million (HNN 6/6/07);
o 228-MW Toachi-Pilaton on the Pilaton and Toachi rivers for US$452 million (HNN 10/10/07);
o 176-MW Chespi for US$275 million (HNN 10/10/07);
o 60-MW Baeza for US$105 million;
o 50-MW Quijos for US$87.5 million; and
o 26-MW Ocana in Canar Province for US$36.7 million. (HNN 9/28/07)

�We want to go back to a situation similar to the 1990s, when 80 percent of power came from hydroelectric plants,� Mosquera said. �Since most of the country is covered by the national grid, we’d have fuel left over for export.�

Currently, 44 percent of the country’s installed capacity is hydropower.

Ecuador’s energy and hydrocarbon investment fund, Fondo Ecuatoriano de Inversion en los Sectores Energetico e Hidrocarburifero (FEISEH), already is being used to help finance some of the projects. Funds for FEISEH come from the sale of oil from fields the government confiscated from Occidental Petroleum Co. in 2006. Funds are used either for direct investments or for credits to developers.

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