The power of the largest hydroelectric plant in the country and emblem of the previous government, Coca-Codo Sinclair, does not reach Guayaquil due to the lack of power lines. Social conflicts with Tungurahua communities and financing problems have delayed the startup of 100% of the new 500 kV (kV) wiring.
Currently, the country’s transmission system has a capacity of 230 kV, which could be compared, for example, with a four-lane highway. The new 500 kV line, on the other hand, resembles an eight-lane one, which allows the energy to be transported with greater reliability.
The contract for this work was signed on July 26, 2013 and it covered a term of 1 185 days, so it has a delay of 730 days, that is, two years. The new electric highway crosses 12 provinces of the country and involves an investment of USD 677 million.
They are pending to conclude 6 kilometers in the canton Tisaleo, in Tungurahua. It is financed with fiscal resources and a loan from ExIm Bank of China. Gonzalo Uquillas, manager of the Electric Corporation of Ecuador (Celec), reported that the contractor, the public company China Harbin Electric, stopped work since July 2, due to the lack of payment of several payrolls for USD 25.2 million.
The problem arose, according to Uquillas, because the State notified China’s Exim Bank late to disburse a pending tranche of the loan. In the trip of the Ecuadorian authorities to China, last September, it was agreed to extend the financing agreement and access the disbursement. But these negotiations can take up to 120 days.
Therefore, and to expedite the restart of the works, Uquillas said that he has a plan ready to cover the outstanding value with Celec resources. The idea is to prioritize expenses and postpone projects that are not essential (such as consultancies). “The 500 kV line is a work of imperative necessity.
Not having it completed has a certain level of involvement in the production of Coca-Codo Sinclair, it demands to have thermoelectric generation -even in small amounts- in Guayaquil and it takes away the reliability of the country’s energy supply, “said the Manager.
With this, it is expected to resume work in 15 days and conclude the work in six months. In addition to USD 25.2 million, Celec requires USD 31.8 million for the line. Another problem is the rejection of the work by residents of the Chilco Luz de América, La Esperanza and La Alborada communities in the Tisaleo canton.
The Celec Company said that there is progress in the resolution of these conflicts. The inhabitants of the communities expect the agreements signed three months ago, through the tripartite agreement between Celec, the Provincial Council of Tungurahua and the Municipality.
According to Rodrigo Garcés, mayor of Tisaleo, Celec pledged to finance the asphalting of the 1.5-kilometer road that joins the San Francisco, La Alborada and Luz de América towns. The road was damaged, according to people from there, during the construction of the Tisaleo Substation. To this was added the delivery of medical equipment for the center of the area, the lighting and the replacement of a new drinking water network, as compensation to those affected by the installation of metal towers and the high voltage wiring that crosses through area.
Just 500 meters from Chilco Luz de América is the Substation that will receive the Coca-Codo energy. “When they spread the project they did not tell us the truth, that it would affect the health of those who are near the towers and our animals; they only told us they would cross.
They produce a sound that disturbs tranquility, “says Magdalena Verdezoto, who lives in the area. The sound is louder when it rains, says the woman, 70 years old. One of the towers passes 20 meters from her house, a house with block walls and roof made of zinc and tiles.
According to Garcés, he worries that “people were never informed” that they would have a permanent noise, especially when temperatures are low. The Burgomaster assured that the technicians were in a noise study in the area, but do not know if it was done. “It’s a pending issue,” he says. (I)