(posted Nov. 13, 6:45 p.m.)- The legislative National Assembly today approved a special reform to the Law to Development the Tumarín Hydroelectric Project, a monstrous 253-megawat dam that will supply nearly 25% of all Nicaragua’s energy needs once it is completed in 2016, according to plans.
The $1.1 billion project—a collaborative effort between Nicaragua and Brazil in the works since 2009—will be built by Brazilian consortium Centrales Hidroeléctricas de Nicaragua (CHN) with funding provided primarily by Brazil’s National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDES), the Inter-American Development Bank and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, according to government and company sources. The hydroelectric dam will be built in the community of La Cruz de Río Grande, a rural and bucolic farming community of some 3,000 people in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS).
The reform passed today in the National Assembly will allow the hydroelectric project to increase its total energy production to help pay for the increase in construction costs, which have already gone up by $300 million since the project was initially approved three years ago.
The reform also establishes a series of incentives and calls for a reduction in the size of the reservoir (from 55 square kilometers to 41 square kilometers) that will be generated by flooding the Río Grande de Matagalpa. Some 300 families will be displaced by the flooding and relocated to a newly constructed town called Nuevo Apawás, which the Brazilian company promises in cartoon drawings will be a cheerful and well-lighted place, with “modern homes,” a market, evangelical and catholic churches, and a health center.
The Nicaraguan government, which would assume control of the hydroelectric plant after 26 years of operation, says the project will generate 3,500 direct jobs and dramatically reduce the country’s demand on foreign oil.