Construction of the Manuel Piar hydroelectric project in Venezuela has taken a major step forward with completion of the second diversion of the Caroni River, the country’s Electricity Minister Ali Rodriguez has announced.

Manuel Piar is being developed by the state-owned utility CVG-Electrificacio del Caroni (Edelca). Initial river diversion took place in 2002. The main components of the project include a 65m high and 360m long CFRD dam, with a reservoir capacity of 1770×106m3. The existence of the Guri reservoir upstream, with its large potential for regulating the flow of the Caroni river, has enabled the size of the Manuel Piar reservoir to be considerably smaller than would have been necessary for a hydro project of a similar size.

The Manuel Piar hydro power project is the last scheme to be developed in the Bajo Caroni hydro power complex on the lower Caroni river watershed in Venezuela. Three dams (Guri, Carauachi and Macagua) are already in operation. Upon completion – scheduled for 2014 – Manuel Piar is expected to add an estimated 2160MW of power to the national grid.

The project was originally called Tocoma but its name was changed by a presidential order in April 2006.