Huge Chilean hydro plant rejected

Chile has binned plans for a huge hydropower project in Patagonia. Two fifths of the country’s energy supply is hydropower but it won’t be getting five new hydroelectric dams as […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Chile has binned plans for a huge hydropower project in Patagonia.

Two fifths of the country’s energy supply is hydropower but it won’t be getting five new hydroelectric dams as yesterday ministers rejected the HidroAysén project.

The hydroenergy scheme – two dams across the Baker River and three on the Pascua River – was hotly contested.

It was criticised in public protests and several presidential candidates in the country’s last elections reportedly opposed to it.

Yesterday Chile’s Minister of Energy, Maximo Pacheco, said HidroAysén “suffers from serious shortcomings in its implementation”, according to the ministry’s website.

The rejection is “final and binding” according to the ministry.

It was not a decision against hydropower per se, suggested Mr Pachecho, rather the project itself: “We will support the development of power projects based on water resources. However, it can not be in our country today, [to] run projects like this without thinking of the people, to whom the project impacts.”

As recently as 2011 Chile suffered a blackout affecting 10 million people – out of a population of 19 million.