Chile HidroAysen sees study OK by May

SANTIAGO Fri Apr 1, 2011 2:41pm EDT

Daniel Fernandez, executive vice president of Chile's HidroAysen, answers a question during an interview as part of the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit in Santiago April 1, 2011. REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Caballero

Daniel Fernandez, executive vice president of Chile's HidroAysen, answers a question during an interview as part of the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit in Santiago April 1, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Victor Ruiz Caballero

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's HidroAysen expects the environmental study for its giant 2,750 megawatt project damming two rivers in deep Patagonia to be approved by May at the latest, a top executive said on Friday.

Daniel Fernandez, executive vice president of the joint venture between private sector electricity generators Endesa Chile END.SN(EOC.N) and Colbun COL.SN, told the Reuters Latin America Investment in Santiago that he expects to submit a transmission line study by December.

He said Endesa and Colbun would then decide in 2014 whether to push ahead with the overall project and whether to invite new partners into the project before beginning construction by the end of that year.

Given outcry over the plan to run power lines from the hydroelectric dams in far southern Patagonia to the central grid, some have suggested that HidroAysen route transmission through Argentina; but Fernandez dismissed the idea.

"We have studied the option of going through Argentina and we have ruled it out completely," he said. "There are cost factors, environmental regulations, strategic risks and financial costs associated with country risk."

(Writing by Brad Haynes, editing by Simon Gardner and Gerald E. McCormick)

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