Transmission, societal involvement crucial for LatAm power sector

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Transmission bottlenecks, power auction reforms, energy efficiency and societal inclusion were among the topics repeatedly brought up at BNamericas' 4th LatAm Power Generation Summit in Santiago, Chile.

Rodrigo Castillo, head of Chile's transmission and distribution trade association, said that transmission planning must include three essential elements: dialogue with local communities, secure infrastructure and a system that lowers prices and establishes competitive conditions.

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Chile's government will push for interconnection of the central SIC and northern SING grids by 2020, national energy commission (CNE) head Andrés Romero said in a speech about the government's energy agenda.

Experts, like consultant Hugh Rudnick of consultancy Systep, stressed the need to implement a new contract model for power auctions in Chile, so that generators feel comfortable investing in new projects.

"The principal objective is to achieve long-term power contracts at low prices," Rudnick said.

The head of Uruguay's state power utility UTE, Gonzalo Casaravilla, shared his country's positive experience with non-conventional renewable energies (NCRE), saying that Uruguay is projected to have the world's highest percentage of wind power in its energy mix by 2015.

Romero said that Chile's energy ministry and CNE will submit an energy efficiency law to the national congress next year that will address efficiency in mining and other industries, homes and the public sector.

Although the region has struggled to bring hydro projects online due to social opposition, Mauricio Caamaño of Latin American Power (LAP) said that his company has found success with mini-hydro projects in Peru, by maintaining constant dialogue with local communities.

"When you communicate in a genuine way, things work a lot better," Caamaño added.

Rudnick said Chile's government must prioritize societal consensus, in order to bring sorely needed large-scale thermo and hydro generation projects online.

"I think the diagnosis is shared," Rudnick said. "The big challenge now is how society defines its future development. But that development must allow for hydroelectric generation and large scale projects."