Chile seeks to send HidroAysén power lines through Argentina
 Por Campaña Patagonia Sin Represas 10 de Noviembre del 2011

Argentine planning minister says he’s open to energy sharing in the future.

Julio de Vido, the Argentine minster of planning, met Monday afternoon with Chilean Energy Minster Rodrigo Álvarez to discuss allowing electrical transmission lines to pass through Argentine territory. No concrete plans were made, but de Vido made it clear that Argentina is very open to the possibility

The HidroAysén project is an estimated US$10 billion energy project headed by Endesa and Colbún. It would place five dams on two of the largest rivers in southern Chile, and transfer the energy through 1,864 miles of transmission lines to central Chile.

 
The companies claim the main benefit of HidroAysén will be meeting Chile’s growing energy needs, and they warn that Chile will soon face an energy crisis. They also cite other potential benefits, including regional development, new jobs, and the creation of a sustainable and inexpensive energy source.
 
The proposed project has been hotly debated in government and has been targeted by a number of protests by communities in Patagonia and throughout the country, including a 40,000-person protest in Santiago after the first phase of the project -- the construction of the five dams -- was approved mid-May.
 
“This topic is being debated in Chile, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on the issue,” De Vino told El Mercurio when asked about the impact of the protests on HidroAysén. “Chile is seeking a possible interconnecting system through Argentine territory. We believe this will also benefit Argentina.”
 
The Puerto Montt appeals court in early October rejected several proposed injunctions protesting the approval for the HidroAysén project’s first phase. These legal challenges will next be brought to Chile’s Supreme Court.
 
In the second phase of the project, HidroAysén seeks to run transmission lines from southern Chile to other areas to provide the electricity. The next step of evaluating the proposed route for the transmission lines will begin in March 2012 by the Environmental Evaluation Service.
 
“We are at the disposal of Chile on this project,” de Vido told El Mercurio about Argentina’s invovlement in with HidroAysén. “The idea of ??creating an interconnection through Argentine territory is something we are open to.”
 
The meeting between Álvarez and de Vido also touched on the idea of, at a future point, tying the HidroAysén power lines into the Argentine power grid and trading energy.
 
These talks follow comments made earlier this year by Adolfo Zaldívar, Chilean ambassador to Argentina, in the lead-up to the first phase’s approval, that if a surplus were created, Chile would be interested in selling energy to neighboring countries.
 
Trading between Argentina and Chile is seen by both countries’ representatives as vital for the future.
 
“We also talked with the Minister Álvarez about creating a serious plan to generate sustainable development for both countries,” de Vido told El Mercurio.
 
Neither Rodrigo Álvarez nor Julio de Vido gave an indication of whether or when a more comprehensive plan regarding Argentine participation in the project would be decided.
 
By Stephen Shea (editor@santiagotimes.cl)
Copyright 2011 – The Santiago Times

About the writer

Steve Shea

Steve is writer from Worcester, MA. He has a BFA in creative writing from Emerson College. Having just arrived in Chile, he is still in awe of all its sights and sounds. He hopes to learn as much as possible about Chile and its lovely people. He also predicts the Baltimore Orioles will win the World Series in 2012.

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