Regulator lifts suspension on Endesa Chile's Bocamina I plant

SANTIAGO Fri Feb 7, 2014 7:19am EST

SANTIAGO Feb 7 (Reuters) - Chile's environmental regulator has allowed Endesa Chile's 128-megawatt Bocamina I coal-fired plant to resume operations, likely helping ease the Andean country's spot power prices.

The SMA regulator had ordered a temporary suspension of the controversial plant last month after local fishermen protested, saying it kills marine life and pollutes ocean water.

"The company will proceed to implement the provisional measures ordered by authorities, and the Bocamina I thermoelectric plant will be put in operation as soon as possible," Endesa Chile said in a statement on Thursday night.

An appeals court in December halted the neighboring 350-megawatt Bocamina II plant in Chile's southern Bio Bio region.

In a significant shift for business-friendly Chile, social groups are successfully suing massive projects over threats to glaciers, health, indigenous rights and biodiversity.

Projects that use coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, have fared particularly poorly.

The suspension of energy complexes come as copper powerhouse Chile is scrambling to tame surging power prices and bring fresh generation on line.

One of the big questions for Chile's power-hungry mining companies is whether President-elect Michelle Bachelet, who takes office in March, will be able to solve the looming energy crunch.

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