- Title: CHILE: Thousands protest hydro-power project
- Date: 29th May 2011
- Summary: SIGN THAT READS "NO TO HIDROAYSEN"
- Embargoed: 13th June 2011 03:25
- Location: Chile, Chile
- Country: Chile
- Topics: Domestic Politics,Energy
- Reuters ID: LVA7PYXJHQKFV47CM31GNWAPK06
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Thousands marched Saturday (May 28) protesting the divisive $3.5 billion HidroAysen hydro-power dam project, which promises to ease energy squeezes. Opponents of the project say it will ruin pristine Patagonian valleys.
Chile, the world's top copper producer, is seeking to boost and diversify its power grid to confront rising energy needs and drought-induced energy squeezes, which this year prompted the government to reduce voltages to help avoid blackouts.
Regulators at Chile's regional environmental commission approved the project almost unanimously.
"To take away so many national parks, national reserves that are the heritage of all Chileans is not fair to us, nor to anyone, not to our mother Earth that gives us everything," said marcher Lisette Valenzuela.
HidroAysen comprises five power stations and plans to generate 2,750 megawatts by damming two major rivers. But it must first seek separate approval for a more than 1,250-mile (2,000-km) transmission line to channel power from the remote south to the capital Santiago.
The march was the latest of many protests the public has staged against the project.
Ecologists say the project will inundate large swaths of Chile's scarcely populated southern region and cut down thousands of trees to set up the transmission line.
"This is a project that will only benefit the mining companies and the big firms. It will not benefit the entire nation," said marcher Mario Diaz.
Pinera's government has urged prompt approval of other energy projects to meet growing demand for power. Some see the approval of HidroAysen paving the way for other controversial energy projects.
Quake-hit Japan's nuclear crisis doused nuclear power ambitions in Chile, one of the world's most seismically active countries, which was battered last year by a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunamis.
Given outcry over the plan to run power lines from the hydroelectric dams in far southern Patagonia to the central grid, some have suggested that HidroAysen route transmission through Argentina, but Fernandez dismissed the idea.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Footage contains identifiable children: users must ensure that they comply with local laws and regulations governing the publishing of this material.