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Venezuela inaugurates 2,160-MW Caruachi

Venezuela officials formally inaugurated the 2,160-MW Caruachi hydroelectric project March 31 on the Caroni River in Bolivar State.

The first 180-MW unit of the project began operation in April 2003; the 12th and final unit began operation February 28. The project is capable of generating 12,000 gigawatt-hours per year, increasing Venezuela's generating capacity 11 percent.

The project is owned, designed, and construction-managed by utility CVG Electrificacion del Caroni (Edelca), which operates two other hydroelectric complexes.

A consortium of GE Energy, Kvaerner of Norway, and Elin Transformatoren GmbH of Austria won the original US$500 million electro-mechanical equipment contract in competitive tendering. Following GE's acquisition of Kvaerner's hydro business in 1999, more than 90 percent of the Caruachi contract was carried out by GE Hydro, the company said. That included Kaplan turbines, generators, governors, exciters, and cranes. GE's consortium partners supplied transformers and ancillary equipment.

Local media reports, carried by Business News Americas, said Venezuela President Hugo Chavez officially opened Caruachi, which is being renamed Francisco de Miranda after the hero of Venezuelan independence.

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