Transmission eyed to carry power from new Chilean hydros

Chile’s dominant electricity transmission company, Transelec, says it is discussing possible construction of a new transmission line to carry power from the proposed 600-MW Rio Cuervo hydroelectric project on the Cuervo River.

Transelec said it had preliminary talks with Energia Austral, subsidiary of mining company Xstrata, which plans to invest US$600 million in Rio Cuervo, in Chile’s southern Aysen Region. (HNN 4/2/07) The project needs a transmission line to deliver power to Santiago, the capital.

Transelec, controlled by Brookfield Asset Management of Canada, already has an agreement to build a 2,000-kilometer transmission line with leading power generators Endesa Chile and Colbun. Their joint company, Hidroaysen, plans to invest US$2.5 billion to build at least four hydro projects in Aysen, 680-MW Baker 1 and 360-MW Baker 2 on the Baker River and 450-MW Pascua 1 and 940-MW Pascua 2 on the Pascua River. (HNN 3/29/07)

“We have a preliminary agreement with Hidroaysen to do the initial studies and regarding the construction and operation of the line,” Transelec manager Eduardo Andrade said. “We’re holding similar conversations with Austral.”

Andrade said Transelec would be able to undertake construction of transmission lines for Hidroaysen, estimated at US$1.5 billion, and for Energia Austral, for about US$1 billion, at the same time. The companies might be interested in sharing a line, although no decisions have been made.

“The energy produced in Aysen should be sent to Santiago using a single structure…” Energia Austral Chief Executive Robert Biehl said during an energy seminar in Santiago. �It is important that the transmission line is open to all players, or it will become a monopoly.�

In April, Chile’s Region XI environmental regulator suspended the licensing process of Rio Cuervo, pending revisions to its environmental impact study.

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