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Government approves Chihuido I hydro plant in Argentina

Argentina's federal government has signed a contract with authorities in Neuquen province, giving the go-ahead for the 640-MW Chihuido I hydropower plant, news agencies reported.

The contract was pre-awarded to a temporary business union consisting of regional firms Electroingenieria, Constructora OAS and Hidrocuyo in June. The companies must cover 30 percent of the construction costs, with the national government and Brazilian development bank BNDES providing the rest, Business News Americas reported.

The Chihuido I hydropower project involves the construction of a dam across the Neuquen River and a hydro plant with four turbines. A lake will then be constructed behind the dam. A 130 kilometer transmission line will connect the facility to the national grid.

Authorities estimate a four-year construction period, with the consortium holding the contract for a 15-year term, according to wire reports.

In other news, Chilean utility Compania General de Electricidad S.A. (CGE) plans to begin construction this year on its 136-MW Nuble run-of-river hydro project, which could put the hydropower project on schedule for completion in 2013.

Environmental regulators approved the hydropower project in October 2008, and construction had been slated to begin in 2009.

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