Saturday, 24 April 2010

Large hydroelectric power plants are back (II)

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But the Eletronorte power utility charged back with reinforced arguments. Only one dam will be built and not three, as originally planned. Thus, only 440 square kilometers will be flooded, eight times less than in the original plan (and six times less than the area of the Tucuruí dam in the Tocantins river). Generating 40% more power than Tucuruí in its final stage (8,000 MW, double its current generating capacity), Monte Belo will be cheaper - if it stays within its budget boundaries.

Eletrobrás C.E.O. José Antônio Muniz Lopes says that Belo Monte is the hydroelectric power plant of his dreams, due to its great generating capacity, with low cost of installed kilowatt and reduced environmental impact. Among hydroelectric plants, Monte Belo is surpassed only by recently-inaugurated, Northeast-located Xingó, favorably resting upon a river gorge, which practically eliminates the need for a dam.

Eletronorte is confident that it will overcome resistance from ecologists and from their non-governmental organizations and that it will attract funding from anywhere in the world. Even if built in one of the prettiest Amazonian locations, an area just now being incorporated into the economic fronts and distant 700 kilometers from Belém, Xingu will not have the same impact as Tucuruí and Balbina, due to a quirk-of-nature wide yet closed river bend, in the precise location where the dam will be constructed.

Be that as it may, right after the indigenous peoples met at Altamira, Eletronorte saw fit to change the project’s name from Kararaô to Monte Belo. Why ? An attempt perhaps to get rid of the stigmata and the sour taste left when the female Indian Tuíra brought her long and sharp knife to touch the scared face of then Eletronorte director and now its C.E.O. Muniz Lopes ? Could it be that Tuíra’s curse is at long last gone ?
A journalist, Lúcio Flávio Pinto lives in Belém and is
editor of the Jornal Pessoal newspaper.

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