Australian utility Pacific Hydro and the German engineering company Lahmeyer International have formed a consortium to develop the 240MW La Higuera hydro power project in Chile.

La Higuera, located in the basin of the Tinguiririca river in the Andes mountains, nearly 150km south of the capital city of Santiago, will supply power to central Chile and the city of Santiago. The run-of-river project, fed by glacial melt runoff in the Tinguiririca river, is expected to generate about 1600GWh of energy annually.

The consortium is expected to invest approximately US$250M in the development of the hydroelectric project and construction is expected to start in mid 2003, with completion slated to be in three years.

This initiative marks the first investment in the Southern Cone for Pacific Hydro, a Melbourne based independent power producer. The development will garner the new consortium a 3.8% market share in Chile’s energy industry, which is dominated by three investors: the Spanish Endesa, the Belgian Tractebel and the US-based AES Corporation.