CUENCA DIGESTOfficials say that new hydro electric plant on the Rio Paute will reduce the possibility of future blackouts

Jun 8, 2010

Minister of Electricity Miguel Calahorrano says that last week’s start-up of the new hydro electric facility at Mazar signals the beginning of energy independence for Ecuador. He added that it also means that the type of electric blackouts experienced in the country during last fall’s severe drought are much less likely. 

One of the two turbines at Mazar began generating electricity May 31. The plant’s second generator is expected to go on-line by mid-July.

The Mazar facility is located upstream from the larger Central Hydro Paute facility on the Rio Paute. Hydro Paute provides between 25% and 35% of Ecuador’s electric needs. According to Calahorrano, the two generating plants, when fully operational, will provide more than half of the country’s power.

Mazar, about 40 miles east of Cuenca, went on line the same week that Ecuador’s government signed a $1.68 billion loan agreement with China’s Ex-Im Bank to fund construction of the massive Coca Coda Sinclair hydroelectric plant on the Napo River. Coca Coda Sinclair will take five years to build but, once complete, will be able to electrify Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, Ecuador’s largest cities. At that point, says Calahorrano, Ecuador will no longer need to import electricity from Colombia and Peru.

INFLATION RATE REMAINS LOW; EXPERTS PREDICT A 4% TO 5% INCREASE FOR THE YEAR

Ecuador's consumer price index rose 0.02% in May compared with the previous month, the National Statistics and Census Institute, or INEC, said Friday.

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In April the consumer price index rose 0.52%. The CPI rose 3.24% over the 12-month period through May.

Officials at INEC say that the CPI is encouraging. “When you compare Ecuador’s rate to other countries in Latin America, we are doing very well.” The Central Bank statement said that Ecuador is one of only five countries in Latin America with an inflation rate in the single digits. Venezuela and Argentina have the highest rates at almost 25% annually.

INEC reported that inflation throughout Ecuador varied only slightly, with the rate higher in Guayaquil and Cuenca.

TUNGURAHUA ACTIVITY SUBSIDES BUT SCIENTISTS SAY NEW ERUPTIONS ARE POSSIBLE

Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute reported on Monday that activity at Volcan Tungurahua was subsiding after last week’s resurgence. "There has been a decrease in the activity of the volcano,” the institute said in its morning bulletin. The statement emphasized, however, that the danger was not over and new eruptions were possible. Lava continued to flow from the crater, although at a reduced rate and ash continued to shower an area within 10 kilometers of the crater.

The Institute said that a large pool of lava was forming in the crater. “The can mean many things. One is that this cycle of activity is beginning to end. Another is that we are building for another eruption,” said a spokesman for the Institute.

SWEEP OF AV. REMIGIO CRESPO RESULTS 35 ARRESTS AND BUSINESS CLOSURES

Police arrested 35 Friday night in an operation to stop under-age drinking. Three night clubs and seven stores were also closed due to the sale of liquor to minors. Two people were arrested for indecent exposure

Police say they encountered some rock throwing and insults as they conducted the raid but said they were simply enforcing the law.

Night clubs that were shut down included Yoco, Valvet, As de Negros and Pecado. Two liquor stores on Av. Crespo, La Taberna and Safari were also shuttered.

Photo caption: The new dam at Mazar

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