HidroAysen to boost capital for five-plant, 2,355-MW Chile complex

Centrales Hidroelectricas de Aysen S.A. (HidroAysen), developer of the five-plant, 2,355-MW Aysen hydroelectric complex in remote southern Chile, has agreed to a capital increase of about US$66.5 million.

HidroAysen, a joint venture of electric generators Endesa Chile and Colbun, plans to build five hydroelectric plants on the Baker and Pascua Rivers in the Aysen Region. The initial investment was estimated at US$4 billion, but subsequent modifications, including a reduction in the planned inundation, increased that estimate. (HNN 8/10/07)

The company told stocks and insurance regulator SVS on October 17 that an extraordinary shareholders meeting approved the issue of 1,337,500 new shares at a minimum price of 10,000 pesos (US$19.96) per share.

The company plans to build two power plants on the Baker River and three on the Pascua River, which are expected to contribute a total of 18,430 gigawatt-hours per year to Chile’s central power grid. According to the company, the amount generated would supply 20 percent of the demand on the grid as projected for the end of the next decade.

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 this week it is preparing a campaign against the project, possibly targeting Chilean copper, fruit, and forestry products in North American and European markets.

HidroAysen 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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