Spain energy utility Iberdrola, through its Brazilian , officially opened the Baixo Iguaçu hydroelectric power plant, a 350-MW facility with an investment of more than 500 million Euros ($560M U.S.).
The plant will supply sustainable energy to a million Brazilians and its production is equivalent to nearly eight percent of the annual electricity demand of the state of Paraná, where the project is located.
“We are proud to contribute to the economic and social development of the country” and announced that Iberdrola’s commitment will continue to increase, Iberdrola chairman and CEO José Ignacio Sánchez Galán said. “Over the next five years alone, we are going to invest around €6.5 billion in new projects in Brazil to continue improving country’s electricity supply and, thus, its competitiveness.”
He also highlighted the social and environmental importance of the Baixo Iguaçu project:
“This facility is of benefit to the Iguaçu Falls, as it contributes to maintain the minimum water flows required. In addition, many initiatives have been undertaken in the areas of health, education, infrastructure, public safety and biodiversity in order to preserve and enhance the well-being of the region.”
Another important aspect of this power plant is that it will have a decisive impact on the flow of water through the Iguaçu Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, which receives 1.5 million visitors every year.
The waterfalls, whose flow is seriously affected during periods of drought, were diminished to mere trickles in 2006. A report by the National Electric System Operator (ONS) concluded that, thanks to the contribution of this hydroelectric power plant, the famous falls will always have the minimum necessary water flow.
Baixo Iguaçu is also making another contribution to the environment through the Consorcio Empresarial Baixo Iguaçu (CEBI), which has carried out several environmental programs to monitor, rescue and conserve local species living around the plant. A green corridor for animals has also been built.
Furthermore, in collaboration with the CEBI, agreements have been reached with local municipalities to support health, education, infrastructure and public security programmes. Among the initiatives already completed are the extension of a local school and the building of a new military police station.
While work was underway to obtain the plant’s environmental permit, archaeological findings dating back to almost 6,000 BC were uncovered, most notably a series of cave paintings (150 engravings) hitherto unseen in the area. There are plans to open the site, named the Vista Alta Archaeological Site, to the public, making it one of the few sites that can be visited in the region.
Through Neoenergia, Iberdrola has become one of the two biggest electricity companies in Brazil by number of customers, with 13.8 million supply points. Trading in 18 states, it produces, transports, distributes and retails electricity in an area spanning 840,000 square kilometers.