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Brazil's 1,087-MW Estreito hydroelectric plant complete

International energy developer GDF Suez has inaugurated its 1,087-MW Estreito hydropower project in Brazil.

GDF Suez owns a 40.7% share in the Estreito hydroelectric facility via its subsidiary, Tractebel Energia, which last gave an update on the project in May.

"Brazil is at the heart of our group's strategy in Latin America," says Gerard Mestrallet, chairman and chief executive officer of GDF Suez. "We are keen to participate in meeting the growing energy needs of the country through the development of projects that provide clean and renewable energy."

Estreito -- located on the Tocantins River between Brazil's Tocantins and Maranhao states -- is downstream of Tractabel Energia's 243-MW Sao Salvador and 450-MW Cana Brava hydropower projects.

"As the leading private power producer in Brazil, we believe that our Brazilian portfolio provides an excellent base to achieve sustainable and profitable growth," Mestrallet says.

GDF Suez says the project fell under Brazil's Program for the Acceleration of Growth (PAC), which allowed it to benefit from favorable finance conditions.

Debt financing for the US$2.75 billion plant was funded through 24-year loan agreements provided by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and others.

GDF Suez says it sold its 256-MW share of the plant's guaranteed output at Brazilian power auctions in October 2007 in the form of 30-year power-purchase agreements that will begin later this year.

Estreito is also owned by Vale (30%), Alcoa (25.49%) and Intercement (4.4%), although Tractabel Energia is responsible for the plant's operational management on behalf of the consortium.


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