Two Colombia hydro projects sign funding accord

The Inter-American Investment Corp. (IIC) has signed loan agreements totaling US$15.5 million with developers of the 9.8-MW Guanaquitas and 9.5-MW Caruquia hydroelectric projects in Colombia's Guadalupe River Basin.

IIC, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, initially approved the loans in July, of US$7.85 million to operating company Guanaquitas S.A. and US$7.65 million to Caruquia S.A. (HNN 7/21/08) The two companies are to develop the projects on a build-operate basis in the municipality of Santa Rosa de Osos, Antioquia Province.

The run-of-river projects, which will have no reservoirs and minimal environmental effect, are to generate 124.1 gigawatt-hours annually.

IIC said technical assistance support from the Korea-IIC SME Development Trust Fund made it possible for the projects to be implemented in accordance with design and detailed engineering, increasing investor confidence.

The legal representative of the developers, President Carlos Felipe Ramirez of HMV Ingenieros Ltda., said the projects are important to Colombia because they will generate clean renewable energy with little environmental effect.

"In addition, because the construction phase will be relatively short, they will quickly be able to meet some of the demand for energy in Colombia and thus help avoid the use of more polluting sources of energy," Ramirez said.

The World Bank's International Finance Corp. (IFC) identified the project sponsor as Century Energy Corp., a Panama-based subsidiary of Colombia's Helm Group. The project operating companies were to enter engineering-procurement-construction contracts with HMV Ingenieros, which also is wholly owned by the Helms Group.

IFC said the total project cost is estimated at US$43.7 million, US$21.5 million for Caruquia and US$22.2 million for Guanaquitas. It is to be financed with US$31 million of debt and a US$12.7 million equity contribution from Century.

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