Dry hydro conditions hurt Chile's Colbún

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chilean power company Colbún had lower hydroelectric output in 1Q15 than in any quarter over the last five years, excluding energy produced by the recently commissioned 316MW Angostura dam.

Effects of the "extremely dry conditions" were partially offset by the firm's coal and gas-fired thermoelectric plants, Colbún said in a Q1 update.

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Even with the startup of Angostura and the 60MW Blanco run-of-the-river plant – which had been idle since January 2014 – hydroelectric production was down 1% year-on-year, Colbún said.

Lower hydroelectric availability contributed to an 86% drop in net income to US$7mn for the period, the company said in a separate presentation, underscoring Colbún's previously stated desire to expand its generation business beyond the borders of Chile, namely to Colombia and Peru.

In April of this year, Colbún was one of five firms to pre-qualify for the public tender to purchase the Colombian government's controlling share in utility Isagén.

In Chile, Colbún launched construction on the 34MW La Mina run-of-the-river plant. The firm has secured environmental approval for its 350MW Santa María coal-fired project, and expects to submit an environmental impact study (EIS) to authorities for the 160-170MW San Pedro hydroelectric project by the end of 1H15.

Colbún's generation assets comprise 1,589MW of hydroelectric plants and 1,689MW of thermoelectric plants on Chile's central SIC grid, totaling 3,278MW.

Of Chile's four main power generators – the others being Endesa Chile, E-CL and AES Gener – Colbún is the only one not owned by a foreign parent company.

Endesa is controlled by Italy's Enel Group, while E-CL and Gener are units of France's GDF Suez and US-based AES Corp, respectively.

Pictured: Colbún's 71MW Quilleco hydroelectric plant