Colombia is looking to become a supplier of energy to Latin America, as the construction of an $837 million hydroelectric plant – the first to be built by a private company – gets under way, Portfolio reported Friday.
During a ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the new El Quimbo plant in El Gigante in the department of Huila, President Juan Manuel Santos said “Now [utilities company] Empresas Publicas de Medellin and other companies are buying energy providers all over Central America. We will be providing energy all the way up to Mexico.”
El Quimbo is being constructed by Emgesa, part of Spanish energy giant, the Endesa Group.
Next Tuesday, Minister of Energy and Mines Carols Rodado Noriega will travel to Panama to meet the Energy Secretary Juan Manuel Urriola, to sign a deal to sell energy to the neighboring country. It is hoped that Panama will be the starting point for expansion into the Central American energy markets.
The Colombian government sees the energy reserves as having geographical, political and diplomatic importance and for this reason is also seeking to advance into the energy markets in the south of the continent.
Next week Chancellor Maria Angela Holguin will meet the energy ministers of Chile and Ecuador in Lima, Peru to reach an agreement to extend Colombia’s energy networks in Ecuador and to establish networks in Chile. Colombia already provides 20% of Ecuador’s daily energy needs
President of Endesa Group, Borja Prado has promised to stand by energy, social, and environmental commitments. Four hundred and fifty eight families will have to be relocated as a result of the hydroelectric plant.
He also said that El Quimbo will generate 8% of Colombia’s electricity needs, that investment in the department of Huila will generate annual income in the order of $3 million and that 60% of the labor force will be local.