Norte Energia consortium awarded Belo Monte contract

28 April 2010

The Norte Energia consortium led by state-controlled Companhia Hidro Electrica do Sao Francisco has been awarded the BRL 20 billion (US$ 10.9 billion) concession contract for construction of the Belo Monte dam.

Despite a Brazilian federal court judge ordering a suspension of the bidding process, the Brazilian government won an appeal against that decision and pushed ahead with the auction process. The Norte Energia consortium won the contract by offering a price of BRL 77.97 (US$ 57.12) per MWh produced, well under the BRL 83 (US$ 46.2) per MWh ceiling laid down by the Brazilian Mines and Energy Ministry.

Mines and Energy Minister Marcio Zimmermann said, "The government dismisses claims that the project will have a negative impact on the environment or the local community. Belo Monte is the most studied hydroelectric plant in the world," he said.

Some 500 protestors massed outside the Aneel building where the bidding took place to voice their fears, saying that the dam would cause serious social and environmental damage.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says the dam is essential and will provide clean and renewable energy to fuel Brazil's growing economy.

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