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NEWS: HidroAysen must answer Patagonia concerns by October 29

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported earlier this month on the $7 billion HidroAysen project in Chile that “would flood nearly 6,000 hectares (14,800 acres) of land and require 1,900 kilometers (1,180 miles) of cables to feed power into the central grid that supplies the capital of Santiago, surrounding towns and mines owned by Codelco, the world’s largest copper company. …The transmission lines would (also) likely run through the 300,000-hectare Pumalin nature sanctuary…”

Construction on the project is expected to start in 2014, with its five dams operational by 2024.
The Patagonia Times reported two years ago that, “Endesa and Colbun have a deal with Transelec to build a 1,200-mile transmission line connecting the HidroAysen dams to the SIC. …(Swiss-based mining company) Xstrata Copper – via a local affiliate called Energia Austral – has (also) reached an agreement with Canadian-owned Transelec Chile SA to develop a transmission line that would stretch from (three dams it plans to build in) Chile’s far southern Region XI to the central part of the country. …(Transelec) is controlled by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management. Other partners include a pair of public-sector Canadian pension funds: the CPP Investment Board and British Colombia Investment Management Corp (BCIMC).”

The Santiago Times reported last week that, “The HidroAysen dam project, owned by Spanish energy giant Endesa and aided by Chilean collaborator Colbun, has drawn intense opposition from local, national and international opponents. They argue that while the centralized, outmoded dam technology will make lots of money for the companies and will consolidate their monopolistic control of Chile’s central energy grid, it make little sense for Chile to destroy one of the world’s few remaining pristine ecologies when the country is so rich in renewable energy alternatives. Thus far, it appears that the dam opponents have been winning the debate.”

The July 2008 article in the Patagonia Times notes, “CPP and BCIMC’s investment in Transelec is opposed by the Council of Canadians, the country’s largest citizens’ organization. The Council of Canadians insists government retirement funds should not invest in companies that carry out environmentally questionable projects.” Council of Canadians opposition to the HidroAysen project has also been reported by CBC Radio International and the Globe and Mail.

Bloomberg adds in their report that, “(Chilean president Sebastian) Pinera’s government has given Santiago-based Empresa Nacional de Electricidad SA until October to explain the environmental impact of its planned HidroAysen complex… Endesa Chile has until late October to answer questions from Chile’s environmental commission.” The Santiago Times notes, “On October 29 HidroAysen will give its (twice delayed) response to the more than 1,000 observations and objections that were made to its first environmental impact statement.”

Our February 2008 ‘ACTION ALERT: Stop Canadian pension funds from destroying Patagonia’ can be read at http://canadians.org/action/2008/04-Feb-08.html.

The news articles noted above can be read at http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-08-11/pinera-s-green-credentials-at-risk-by-chile-thirst-for-power.html, http://www.patagoniatimes.cl/content/view/964/1/ and http://www.patagoniatimes.cl/content/view/585/31/.