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Emgesa Delivers More Energy To Colombia Through The El Quimbo Hydroelectric Power Plant 

11/17/2015  Bogotá 

• El Quimbo began commercial operations as of yesterday, contributing 400 MW to the system. • The start-up of the El Quimbo operations substantially contributes to increasing energy available to meet Colombia’s demand. • El Quimbo’s annual average energy is estimated to be 2,216 GWh, which is equivalent to 4% of the national demand. • The construction of the Hydroelectric Power Plant required an investment of more than USD 1,200 million.
  • More than 30% of this investment (USD 366 million) went toward social-environmental aspects.
  • With El Quimbo's construction, the department of Huila has significant infrastructure jobs, which represent regional development: the longest viaduct in Colombia, new routes, bridges, houses, schools, storage centers, chapels, multi-purpose courts, local development projects, repositioning of electric and telecommunications networks and docks, among others.
  • EMGESA amounts to 12 hydroelectric power plants with a total of 3,459 MW of installed capacity in Colombia.

After five years of construction and around ten years after having begun feasibility studies with some 6,500 people working in the different critical work areas, the new El Quimbo Hydroelectric Power Plant launched operations yesterday to officially begin delivering energy generated to the Colombian electric system. El Quimbo's average annual energy is 2,216 GWh, which is equivalent to 4% of the national demand. El Quimbo and Betania, create a generation chain on the Magdalena River, which will contribute to 8% of the national demand.

“The El Quimbo construction project is the largest undertaking in recent years by Enel Group in Latin America, with an investment of more than USD 1,200 million, through which our company not only confirmed its confidence in Colombia, but also built a generation asset that will help respond to the country’s energy demand," said Lucio Rubio, General Director of Enel Colombia.

With El Quimbo EMGESA now has 12 power plants: ten hydroelectric power plants and two thermal power plants. This strengthens its leadership in the Colombian energy sector with installed capacity of 3,459 MW.

Construction Project Details

The El Quimbo Project was awarded in March 2008; it received environmental licenses in May 2009; and it initiated construction work in November 2010.

This mega project included a 55 kilometer long reservoir covering 8,250 hectares, with storage capacity of 3,200 cubic hectometers, one of the largest reservoirs in the country. The reservoir has a 151 meter-high dam, a 66 meter-high auxiliary dike and a spillway with four gates to control reservoir levels. It also has cargo tunnels and the foundational structure necessary to supply the required ecological flow.

The Power Plant has two generators, which utilize Francis turbines generating a total potential power output of 400 MW. The total investment in civil works, electromechanical equipment and engineering was USD 865 million.

El Quimbo Hydroelectric Power Plant responded to Colombia's energy planning, and its start-up at this time “contributes to guaranteeing an increase in energy availability needed to assist economic and productive development in Colombia,” said Lucio Rubio, General Director of Enel Colombia.

Relevant Investments

The construction of El Quimbo involved relevant investments in infrastructure, the environment and communities.

Investments totaling COP 523,000 million were made in infrastructure in the department and municipalities of the area of influence, for a new, more modern and efficient infrastructure including the following works:

  • The country’s largest viaduct at 1.7 kilometers, which connects the municipality of Garzón with El Agrado. (More than COP 103 billion.)
  • 11 kilometers of roadways built following world-class technical specifications, roadway mobility and security conditions. (COP 151 billion.)
  • 12.5 kilometers of new electric and telecommunications networks.
  • 5 waste water treatment plants.
  • 6 unloading docks for reservoir use.

Prior to filling the reservoir, EMGESA undertook a project to prepare the reservoir basin. This consisted of utilizing woodlands, removing wood and biomass and handling macrophytes (aquatic plants), all of which implied an investment of over COP 150 billion. In total, the Company removed more than 530 thousand m3 of wood and biomass.

Investments exceeded COP 358,000 million in the social programs, directly benefiting the development of the communities and agricultural trainingn and development for the region. These investments have permitted construction in resettlement areas with modern community infrastructure, the development of job restoration programs through new productive projects and the local development projects that contribute to the municipalities in the area of influence.

More than COP 103,000 million was invested in the environmental programs, most of which was used to acquire 11,079 hectares of land to carry out the most important ecological restoration plan ever in the dry tropical Colombian forest; to conduct the flora, fauna and fish resource studies; and to rescue more than 26 thousand animals and 45 thousand fish in the pre-filling phase.

Additionally, an investment of more than COP 17,200 million was made in archaeological efforts to restore 50,000 ceramic fragments and more than 100 archaeological pieces including pots, beads, gold work and lithic artifacts that form part of our country’s cultural heritage.

Likewise, 1% of the total investment (more than COP 11,000 million) went toward the protection of water resources in the department of Huila. This is currently in the implementation process.

Main Benefits

Construction of El Quimbo Hydroelectric Power Plant has been an agent of progress for the region. Not only will it include technical benefits for the stability and reliability of the national electric system and for energy storage, but it also brings important contributions to Huila.

The new settlement sites have provided improved quality of life for the inhabitants and have increased the opportunity to start-up productive projects and generate employment:

  • More than 130 families have new homes with public utility hookups.
  • Community infrastructure includes three new schools, three chapels, three storage centers and five athletic and recreational centers.
  • More than 1,000 hectares for agricultural production plan development.
  • Two thousand people were trained by SENA on topics of administration and production, contributing to the stability of productive projects undertaken, with a total of COP 56 billion in seed capital invested.
  • Potential for developing tourism programs and activities around the reservoir that contribute to making the region more competitive.

EMGESA construction work during the El Quimbo Hydroelectric Power Plant project have represented significant improvements to roadway security and mobility in the region, and they have improved quality of life by delivering public utilities such as energy, sewage and water.

Studies done during these years of construction left the department a wealth of knowledge regarding natural resources and flora and fauna, which will provide the authorities with new information to make decisions with a better academic basis and greater knowledge about biodiversity.

The start-up of El Quimbo Hydroelectric Power Plant commercial operation will allow the Autonomous Corporation of Magdalena (CAM) and 18 municipalities and districts in the area of influence to receive important resources through the Law of Transfers. It is estimated that EMGESA will contribute more than COP 7 billion annually.

“EL QUIMBO IS A GOOD PROJECT that now increases reliability of the Colombian energy system, improves the quality of life for many people in the region and contributes to maintaining ecosystems in areas of extinction such as more than 11,000 hectares of the Tropical Dry Forest currently being restored," said Lucio Rubio, General Director of Enel Colombia.

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