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UPDATE - Argentina province to open bidding for 478-MW Chihuido 1

Argentina's Neuquen Province announced it would begin sale June 23 of expression of interest documents for construction of the 478-MW Chihuido 1 hydroelectric project on the province's Neuquen River.

Gov. Jorge Sapag presided over ceremonies June 18 announcing the beginning of the bidding process. The coordinator of the management unit of Chihuido 1 and 2, President Elias Sapag of the Autoridad Interjurisdiccional de Cuencas, said expressions of interest are to be due August 5. (HNN 5/19/08)

The province government said a short list of companies is to be invited to submit bids to build the project. Documents describing project specifications and bidding conditions are being drafted by Neuquen Province and the Argentina government for issuance October 6. Bids are to be opened in February 2009.

Featuring three vertical-axis Francis turbine-generators, Chihuido 1 is expected to generate 1,750 gigawatt-hours annually. The project's 17,000-hectare reservoir also is to reduce flooding and guarantee water for consumption, irrigation, and industry.

The province said construction is expected to require three to four years at a cost between US$900 million and US$1 billion.

Elias Sapag said the project is not a public work and will require no funds from the government or the province. The winning bidder is to build, finance, operate, and maintain the multi-purpose project.

The official said Neuquen is negotiating a power purchase agreement with the Argentine government that would use the government's �energy-plus� program providing increased power rates. It also is negotiating tax exemptions for import of generating equipment.

The province said initially there would be a call to qualify companies according to technical, economic, and historical ability in construction dams. Those who are qualified will be invited to participate in the second part of the bidding process.

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