Chile must halt transmission project - lawmakers

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Chile must halt transmission project - lawmakers

Chile's government must suspend the environmental approval process for the 2x500kW Cardones-Polpaico high tension transmission line project, according to two lawmakers.

Senators Francisco Chahuán and Ignacio Walker of coastal Valparaíso region (V) said the 753km project would have a negative environmental impact on the area, according to a senate release.

InterChile, the local unit of Colombian transmission firm Interconexión Eléctrica (ISA), is developing the US$1bn project, for which Chile's environmental authority SEA is evaluating an environmental impact study.

"The debate has lacked citizen participation and the opinions of [Valparaíso's] mayors haven't been considered," Chahuán was quoted as saying.

In a meeting scheduled for Monday with energy minister Máximo Pacheco, Chahuán said he and Walker will ask that the approval process be suspended until an agreement is reached with local residents and mayors to reduce the project's environmental impact in the region.

Walker said that all lawmakers and mayors of the region's interior agree that the project cannot continue as planned.

The works are designed to strengthen the trunk system of Chile's central SIC grid, where transmission bottlenecks have prevented output – particularly from wind and solar plants – from efficiently reaching high-demand areas.

The project includes 1,700 transmission towers and would span from the Cardones substation outside Copiapó, Atacama region (III), to the Polpaico substation outside capital Santiago.

In related news, Pacheco met with senate leader Isabel Allende to discuss proposed reforms to the country's regulated market power auction system.

The reforms expand the role of the state in designing and administering the auctions, and are meant to increase the proportion of regulated market clients and stabilize electricity prices.

"It's fundamental to diversify and better regulate electricity supply, in order to provide improved service and prices to individuals and small businesses," Allende said.

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