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Panama shutters last coal-fired power plant

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Panama shutters last coal-fired power plant

Panama’s public services regulator Asep has authorized power producer Bahía las Minas (BLM) to pull 120MW of coal-fired capacity from the national interconnected system (SIN).

“The country will be able to accelerate its transition to an increasingly renewable matrix with the elimination of the last coal-fired plant exclusively used for generation,” Ricardo Sierra, CEO of Celsia, which controls 51% of BLM, said during the Colombian group’s second quarter results call. 

“Market conditions and the realities of an economy with clear effects of the pandemic led to the need to terminate this operation,” he told investors in August, adding that “the orderly closure of BLM should be completed in this semester.” 

In a resolution, Asep highlighted that among BLM’s reasons for requesting the withdrawal of the capacity was Panama’s pledge to decarbonize the energy matrix. 

Citing a report from the national dispatch center (CND), the watchdog said that the retirement of the coal-fired capacity does not represent “important risks” to supply.

Last year and following talks with creditors and others, Celsia and the Panamanian state, which holds 49% of BLM, began a process to sell assets and pay liabilities. 

In June, the partners capitalized the generator for US$31mn, of which US$15.9mn went to Celsia and was used for debt reduction and resources for payment of creditors, according to Celsia’s 2Q21 financials.

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