MADRID – Spanish utility Endesa SA plans to spend $837 million to build a hydroelectric power station in Colombia, a project that represents the energy group’s biggest investment in the past three years.
The 400 MW El Quimbo plant will be built by Colombian subsidiary Emgesa in the southeastern province of Huila, Endesa, which is controlled by Italy’s Enel SpA, said Thursday in a statement.
El Quimbo and another plant, Betania – also located in Huila – will allow Endesa to maintain its leadership in Colombia’s electricity generation sector with 20.1 percent of installed capacity. The two plants will meet roughly 8 percent of the country’s electricity demand.
The plant will take four years to build and be fed by the Magdalena River, Colombia’s largest.
El Quimbo will be the first hydroelectric plant built by a private company in Colombia and Endesa’s largest hydroelectric project in Latin America since the construction of the Ralco hydro station in Chile in 2004, the company said.
The new dam will boost Colombia’s energy security and the stability of its electrical system, Endesa said.
In connection with the project, Emgesa will implement an environmental-recovery plan to restore 11,080 hectares (43 square miles) of tropical dry forest and a social-compensation program to guarantee that 450 families forced to relocate “will have a quality of life that is equal to or better than what they had before the move.”
The license to build El Quimbo was awarded to Emgesa in 2008.
Close to 3,000 direct jobs will be created in the region during the most active part of the construction phase, while a minimum of 60 percent of local services will be provided by companies or individuals from the area of influence.
In addition, Endesa said the region will benefit from related investments in infrastructure.
With the construction of the El Quimbo hydroelectric plant, the company will ensure that 85 percent of its power generating plants in Colombia do not emit greenhouse gases. EFE