SANTIAGO – Chile will complete by 2017 the connection of its two major electric power grids, Energy Minister Maximo Pacheco said Thursday.
The link between the SING network, serving northern Chile, and the SIC grid, which supplies power to the center and south of the country, will materialize through a transmission line now being built by EC-L, a subsidiary of GDF Suez, the minister told a press conference.
Contracts to build two other lines will be awarded in the course of this year, Pacheco said.
“This is tremendous news for our electric power system,” he said. “It’s of enormous value to Chile and will bring a $1.1 billion benefit in the way of lower costs, as well as cleaner and cheaper energy.”
Once the interconnection is complete, according to Pacheco, power customers in the north will receive a rate reduction of $13 per megawatt hour, while those in central and southern regions will save $17 per MWh.
The unification of the system will also boost Chile’s gross domestic product by between $1.5 billion and $1.7 billion a year, Pacheco said.
Chile has some of the highest electricity costs in Latin America, representing a major burden for the mining industry that is the engine of the nation’s economy.