QUITO – President Rafael Correa inaugurated the Mazar hydroelectric power plant in Ecuador’s southern Andean region and said the facility would end the need for electricity rationing.
“There is no chance of suffering from rationing in 2011, like we had to go through at the end of last year,” Correa said Wednesday.
The power plant, which has a generating capacity of 160 MW, will serve as an additional reservoir for the Paute Dam, which is located downstream from Mazar and has a generating capacity of 1,000 MW, making it Ecuador’s largest electric facility.
A severe drought hit Ecuador’s southern Andean region in late 2009, forcing the government to impose nationwide electricity rationing because of the low water level at Paute.
Mazar will provide its stored water to Paute if there is another prolonged drought, allowing the huge power plant to operate for an estimated three months, Correa said.
Delays in the construction of Mazar, whose completion was originally expected more than 40 years ago, “has cost us hundreds of millions of dollars,” the president said.
The power complex in the Paute basin also includes the Cardenillo and Sopladora dams, which are being constructed, Correa said.
Droughts in the area usually start in October, intensifying in December and ending in March.
Lack of rainfall affects generation at Ecuador’s hydro plants, especially Paute, which produces more than 35 percent of the country’s electricity. EFE