Brazil’s National Electricity Agency (ANEEL), has approved the construction of three hydro plants by independent power producers. The plants will take advantage of a recent government resolution exempting them from transmission and distribution fees. To qualify for the discount the new plants have to come on line before 31 December 2003. The incentive is intended to stimulate hydroelectric generation in Brazil in order to offset the risk of an energy deficit.

The new hydro plants are: Santa Barbara, a 13MW plant on the Santa Barbara river in Sao Goncalo do Rio Abaixo, Minas Gerais state; Corrente Grande, a 14MW plant on the Corrente Grande river between Acecena and Gonzaga, Minas Gerais; and Calheiros, a 19MW plant on the Itabapoena river near Bom Jesus do Itabapoena, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The estimated cost of the three plants is R$66.8M (US$37.5M).

ANEEL intends to step up generation from small hydroelectric generators by 500MW this year. Proposals for nearly half this capacity have already been received by the regulatory agency. A total of 50.5MW of new generation has been approved so far. Small hydro plants, which are categorised as being less than 30MW, are considered advantageous in Brazil due to their reduced environmental impact and relatively fast construction time.

ANEEL has also announced the auction of build-operate-transfer (BOT) concessions for two new hydroelectric plants. One BOT concession is for the Quebra-Quexio 120MW power plant in Santa Catarina state, while the other is for the Barra Granda 690MW power plant between the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande.

The BOT concession for the Quebra-Quexio plant on the Chapeco river will be auctioned on 5 April 2000. The concession for the Barra Granda plant on the Pelotas river, will be auctioned on 12 April 2000.