Update on HidroAysen –
We were only 3 short weeks into 2014 when Chilean
environmentalists received some of what will likely be the best news of the year
and river lovers around the world and all of us here at BBX let out a deep sigh
HidroAysen, the controversial hydroelectric project
that proposes to construct five mega dams in Chilean Patagonia, has been put on
hold yet again… and this time it may be permanent. Now Endesa Chile (who owns
51% of HidroAysen) claims that legal challenges and uncertainty
surrounding the dams’ transmission lines are why the project has been moved from
short to medium term priority in Endesa’s most recent investment holders
The hydroelectric project has faced heavy opposition
from the start as it would threaten two of the far South’s most wild and scenic
rivers, the Baker and the Pascua, and forever alter the surrounding wild lands
and local communities. Also, many claim the project to be too high risk. So, it
is no surprise that many Chileans are opposed.
The project appears to be steadily losing support
over the years. In 2012, Colbún (Chile’s third largest private electric company
that owns 49% of HidroAysen) halted work on their side of the dam citing lack of
funding and public and political support of the project and now Endesa is
putting the project on an indefinite hold.
Which is great! But it’s not a done deal. The hope
now is that renewable energy sources will become more available and better
developed over the next few years while there is a government in office that
opposes of the project so that when HidroAysen rears it’s ugly head again, it
will been viewed as irrelevant and passé.
So today, we celebrate this milestone and embrace
Endesa’s announcement to put HidroAysen on the shelf. Let’s cross our fingers
that wind from the south and/or solar from the north can find its way into
Chile’s power equation for the future and that the wild beauty and cultural
heritage of Chilean Patagonia will be preserved.