A Chilean court has suspended work on the US$540M Ralco hydroelectric project. Work will be halted on the 570MW scheme on the Bio Bio river until a request by three indigenous people to annul its environmental authorisation is resolved. The three Pehuenche women went to court to contest the authorisation granted by the Chilean environmental commission Conama. Endesa, Chile’s largest utility and the project developer, intends to appeal against the ruling. Endesa has already spent US$120M on the project.

Spanish utility Enersis has a controlling stake in Endesa-Chile. In September, Enersis said it was considering abandoning Ralco, due to its continuing problems.