Colombia utility begins commercial operation of 660-MW Porce 3

Colombia utility Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM) began full commercial operation September 1 of the 660-MW Porce 3 hydroelectric project on Colombia's Porce River.

EPM began operating the project's first turbine-generator in December 2010, bringing the other three units on line over the past six months, with the fourth unit beginning operation in September in Antioquia Province. The project features a 148-foot-tall concrete-faced rockfill dam, an underground powerhouse, and a reservoir covering 575 hectares.

EPM President Federico Restrepo Posada said the US$1.33 billion project is "a clear and convincing example that national engineering is ready to face the execution of macro-projects with resources increasingly trained and qualified that make it competitive worldwide."

Porce 3 was built by a consortium of Brazil's Construcciones Carmargo Correa and Colombia's Conconcreto and Coninsa-Ramon H. EPM awarded contracts in 2007 totaling US$16 million to Argentina's Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona S.A. (IMPSA) and Italy's ATB-Riva Calzoni to supply gates for the diversion tunnel and outlets. IMPSA previously received a US$36.9 million contract to supply four Francis turbines, while Japan's Mitsui & Co. Ltd. received a US44.8 million contract to supply synchronous generators.

Restrepo Posada said Porce 3 emphasized high compliance with provisions of its environmental license governing development and employment generated in the region, as well as management of project impacts. EPM relocated 170 families in the catchment area or nearby locations. It also agreed to improve schools, health facilities, roads, housing, and community facilities in Amalfi, Guadalupe, and Anori.

The utility official noted EPM owns the most power generation in Colombia with more than 20 power plants. The next project under construction, 2,400-MW Ituango, is under construction with completion expected in late 2018.

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