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Minister of Energy “brokes to a halt” alleged declaration of emergency due to regressive erosion and talks about the departure of Celec’s manager

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A eventual declaration of emergency due to the situation of regressive erosion that could affect the intake works of the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant, which was intended to give in to the Electricity Corporation of Ecuador (Celec EP), was stopped dead by the Minister of Energy , Fernando Santos.

The intention to declare an emergency has also put Celec’s manager in trouble, Nicolás Eduardo Andrade Laborde, since Minister Santos himself explained to this newspaper that he is already looking for a replacement.

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The problem arose when Minister Santos learned of Andrade’s intention to declare an emergency. The minister indicates through the Official letter No. MEM-MEM-2022-1094-OF to Andrade Laborde, on November 18, that a serious complaint has reached his office on a possible declaration of emergency due to the natural catastrophe of the regressive erosion of the Coca River, “The purpose of which is to authorize and delegate to the director of the Río Coca Executive Commission, the contracting of emergency purchases, without limit of amount, in an abrupt manner and without a clean, transparent and competitive process.”

Faced with this situation, the Minister of Energy, Fernando Santos Alvite, ordered “not to proceed with the signing of this declaration of emergency, before explaining to the board of directors this scope and its consequences, urgently and immediately”.

When asked about the issue, the minister said that this is part of the fight against corruption. “As a pretext of the risky situation of the plant, they wanted to give the manager carte blanche, to enter into contracts without the proper bidding filter. This attitude goes against the government’s transparency policy. This attempt was stopped in timeevade the necessary controls”.

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Celec EP, For his part, he told this newspaper that he has not signed any emergency declaration related to erosion, however, recognized that “the technical and legal team of the Río Coca Executive Commission (CERC) is debating the technical and legal relevance of a possible declaration of emergency, This is due to the current condition of high flows that progressively accelerates the impacts of erosion throughout the watershed.” According to the communication, the objective is to mitigate these impacts on the intake infrastructure of the Coca Codo Sinclair Power Plant, which supplies 30% of the country’s demand.

In the possible scenario of an emergency declaration, it will comply with the principles of public procurement provided for in current legal regulations, specifically those related to transparency, publicity, participation and fair treatment; and under no circumstances would it establish contracts without limit of amounts.

AdditionallyCelec EP said that through the Coca River Executive Commission (CERC) and the advice provided by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Usace), it has defined the immediate need to undertake the construction of the permeable dam, once the studies and physical models carried out have demonstrated the capacity of this work to slow down the effects of regressive erosion towards the catchment; however, the conditions of the next winter stage could cause critical flows, exacerbating and accelerating the effect of erosion in this basin. The economic impact of this happening is not having the Coca Codo Sinclair generation plant to contribute to the country’s energy demand.

Yesterday, instead the minister through Official Letter no. MEM-MEM-2022-1114-OF should have stopped another initiative of Andrade himself, this time in Hidrotoapi. Santos ordered to immediately annul the layoffs of personnel carried out in the aforementioned Business Unit, since November 22, 2022, likewise, “suspend all types of dismissal of personnel and hiring of new collaborators in the Corporation”, until further notice.

The minister indicated that this decision was made considering the importance of the generation of electrical energy that will be provided by the units belonging to the Toachi Pilatón hydroelectric complex, in charge of the Hidrotoapi Business Unit, of the Ecuadorian Electric Corporation Celec EP, and based on the current declaration in experimental operation of the Sarapullo Power Plant, and its next entry into commercial operation. (YO)

Source: Eluniverso

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