Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) and the national electricity regulator (Aneel) have announced that the auction of the Jirau hydropower project has been slightly delayed, by a week, to 19 May.

The original date for the auction was 12 May.

The 3,300MW Jirau plant is to be built on the Madeira river in west Brazil, near the border with Bolivia. It will be the bigger of the two projects in the 6,450MW Madeira scheme, the other project being the 3,150MW Santo Anontio project.

Construction of the Jirau project is to take 90 months. Last October, the cost of the project was estimated at R$8.70B (US$5.14B presently, US$4.83B in Oct 2007).

Jirau is to have its first three generating units commissioned in January 2013. In total, the plant will have 44 units being powered by a reservoir with a surface area of 258km2.

Last year, the auction of the Santo Antonio project was won by the Madeira Energia consortium led by Furnas and Odebrecht. The JV bid R$78.87/MWh for the power sale price, which was almost a third below the upper limit set by Aneel. Following processing formalities, the 30-year concession contract is due to be signed shortly.

The first two of Santo Antonio’s generating units (also a total of 44) are to be commissioned by December 2012.