Supreme Court ruling allows work to resume on Panama’s 29-MW Barro Blanco hydropower project

Panama’s Supreme Court overruled a temporary suspension of hydroelectric projects in the country’s Chiriqui River Basin earlier this week, allowing development of the 29-MW Barro Blanco plant to resume.

Panama’s Authoridad Ncional del Ambiente (ANAM) stopped work on the project in February by halting water use concessions awarded to hydropower plants in the Ngabe-Bugle region due to environmental impact study non-compliance and disputes with indigenous groups.

The Supreme Court’s controversial dismissal of the ANAM suspension reportedly led to a brief confrontation between protestors and police units Wednesday.

Barro Blanco is located on the Tabasara River within Panama’s Chiriqui province. Genisa was awarded a concession for the project’s development in 2007 by power regulator Autoridad Nacional de los Servicios Publicos (Asep) after bidding US$750,000 for the project.

Financing for the US$78 million project is reported as coming from the German Investment Corporation, Netherlands Development Finance Company and Central American Bank for Economic Integration.

Work on Barro Blanco’s infrastructure was reported to have been about 90% complete when work was halted.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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