Andean bank finances upgrade of Venezuela's 10,300-MW Simon Bolivar

CARACAS, Venezuela 11/10/11 (PennWell) -- The Andean development corporation has approved a US$380 million loan to upgrade six units of the 10,300-MW Simon Bolivar hydroelectric project on Venezuela's Caroni River.

President Enrique Garcia of Corporacion Andina de Fomento (CAF) said the lender approved the funding for Venezuela's Corporacion Electrica Nacional (Corpolec) in parallel to financing for the work from the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). IADB last year announced a US$700 million loan to help replace the six turbine-generators which have been operating for 50 years at the plant, located at Guri Dam.

The work is to replace the units with more efficient technology and implement complementary works, eventually expanding the plant's capacity by 795 MW. The world's third largest hydroelectric complex, Simon Bolivar supplies nearly 45 percent of Venezuela's electricity.

An explosion in June injured two workers who were performing final tests on Simon Bolivar's Unit 12, which was disconnected from the grid for refurbishment. Corpolec unit CVG Electrificacion del Caroni (Edelca) awarded a fourth modernization contract to Alstom Hydro in 2009 for refurbishment of generators at Simon Bolivar.

The CAF loan to Venezuela follows a US$600 million loan in October 2010 for construction of the2,320-MW Manuel Piar (Tocoma) project on the Caroni River. It was the third CAF loan for Manuel Piar since 2004 for a total of US$15 billion. CAF also has supported the other two projects on the Caroni, 2,910-MW Antonio Jose de Sucre (also called Veinte y Tres de Enero or Macagua 1-3) and 2,160-MW Francisco de Miranda (Caruachi).

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