Lawsuits Won’t Stop Brazil from Building World’s Third Largest Hydroelectric Plant

Belo Monte Despite nasty court battles started by Indians, environmental activists and some of its own federal attorneys, and the surprise decision by two of the country’s biggest construction companies to drop out of the bidding for the opportunity to build the world’s third biggest hydroelectric dam, the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration says it plans to move ahead with the April 20 auction on the construction of the Belo Monte project.

Mauricio Tolmasquim, the president of the government’s Energy Research Company (EPE), which is housed in the Ministry of Mines and Energy, stepped forward to speak for the administration and stated that expectations are that at least two consortiums will bid for the Belo Monte project.

Tolmasquim explained that a number of small companies have expressed interest and that they will probably join forces with other companies. “We will know only after we get the guarantee deposits,” he said.

Tolmasquim added that because of the size of Belo Monte (the government says the total cost will be 19 billion Brazilian reais – US$ 10.7 billion – but private investors say it could come in at over 30 billion reais – US$ 16.9 billion) the state-run sector holding company, Eletrobrás, will certainly be part of the consortium that eventually builds the dam and power plant.

At the moment, only one consortium has confirmed its participation in the April 20 auction: a group consisting of Vale (the mining company), Andrade Gutierrez Participações (construction), Neoenergia Investimentos and Votorantim Energia.

Tolmasquim says that even if the auction is canceled, the established price per megawatt hour, at 83 reais (US$ 46.9), is a victory. “If the power plant electricity eventually comes in at that price, we will have a victory. It is a very low price for electricity.”

At US$ 46.9 per megawatt hour the price of electricity at Belo Monte is, in fact, very low. However, that is definitely not the price Belo Monte electricity will be when it reaches somebody’s home or business somewhere else in Brazil.

For the sake of comparison, the average price of a megawatt hour in the United States in 2008 was US$ 100 after financial, administrative, transmission and distribution costs were factored in.

And, during the bizarre rolling blackout crisis in California in 2001, when deregulation went berserk, a megawatt hour rose to US$ 3,880.



  • Show Comments (10)

  • NormanCopeland

    Good intentions.
    Hopefully the company that does the work, does the work for the people and not for profit while we organise better methods to give luxury to our people.

    No one want’s to ruin our world, particularly the beauty of Brazil and it’s priceless regional habitat.

    I would rather use solar energy for house uses and wait until we populate another planet.

    The billions of years of habitat is irreplacable and the opposition to the building of the dam is well meant and totally correct.

    I personally would plan for Brazil to be still what it was billions of years ago millions of years from now, and that is not after nuclear war has wiped us out, that is after we move everyone away from our priceless beauty regions of the world and admire them and our luck for being on such a delicate beatiful planet.

    If we learn to terraform planets it could be a really long time before we actually have anything like what we have now. It is vital we remember that and the beauty that we really want for our planet.

    Brazil probably number 1.

    Pro human.

    Pro Brazil.

    Pro human space exploration.

  • Brasilia

    a dam good idea
    i support the dam, james cameron can go suck on a big fat one. telling the world that what could happen in Brazil is the same as what happened in his movie. ugly american.

    the dam proposal at belo monte has its merits. it will supply clean energy to an area that desperately needs it. with reliable electricity both the commercial and residential sectors can expand. how can this be a bad thing if it is done with care?

    there are studies on the water available and in the past there was talk of building 6 feeder dams that would keep the proper flow to the hydro dam. my only concern is that those in charge do not rush the project and end up placing the dam in a spot which ends up defeating the purpose. during the dry season they are calculating roughly 10 to 30% operational capacity, not very efficient for a project this size. hopefully the coming feasibility reports are more accurate and the dry season numbers go up. it would be horrible if they built it, only to figure out some years down the road they put it in the wrong spot.

    to the rather ugly fellow who can’t seem to spell properly. why all the hate for Brazil? you’re talking about a country that is trying to do the best it can with what it has. since 1960 only 16% of the amazon has been cleared. if it wasn’t for the controls put in place by the government, increased access to new farming technologies, crop rotation, and a whole bunch of other advancements, the amazon would not exist today. for that matter, the amazon is Brazil’s treasure, not america’s, not europe’s and not the world’s. america and europe once enjoyed vast forests, which have since been clear cut for logging, permanently wiped from the face of the earth. obviously you haven’t visited many places in the US, because the filth seen in a favela is very similar to what is seen in US ghettos. if you are from america, the government should revoke your right to use the internet.

    leave Brazil alone, she’s doing fine.

  • DU 48

    Izabella Teixeira -new environment minister-hope for alternatives to Belo Monte
    With Minc more interested in politicking and thankfully out of the way a career employee is at the helm and perhaps there is now a chance that the politicians will step back and respect the realities and the consequences of building this dam.

    Science and technology professionals can give the lead in developing alternative energy solutions but only if they are free and courageous enough to act.
    Civil society is moving in that direction and it’s time politicians and governments reflected these changes-before it’s too late.

  • Laura

    [quote]think people
    written by Forrest Allen Brown, April 12, 2010
    I did not say the US was grate but at leas it is trying to clean up its act what has your countries done in the realm of control . [/quote]

    What do you understand about Brazil or the US ? You can’t even write properly.. You’re totally illiterate.. I’d be better off ignoring you…

  • Forrest Allen Brown Ass

    I am going to say something very serious to you: I didn’t fcuking understand a single fcuking word of what u said…

  • Forrest Allen Brown

    think people
    I did not say the US was grate but at leas it is trying to clean up its act what has your countries done in the realm of control .
    your burning of cane fields .open grabage dumps on rivers ,killing of the amazon, your beach front hotels dumping raw sewage into the ocean , your cities doing the same as it has done for 60 years ,

    yes the US has its poulition but look at mobile bay the houston ship chanel all are quite well off as compared to 20 years ago .
    go to your navy yard in rio look at the ships your navy work on dumping lead base paint into the bay ,

    The fical calaform in all your bays rivers lakes is off the charts in most cases.

    The world has a way to take care of its self just look back to booth worls wars the millions of tons of shipping went down where did all that oil and gas go ? who cleaned it up ????

    We the people of the world have to help where do you stand in brazil working on cleaning up its act

  • Forrest Allen Brown Ass

    [quote]the US has been working on polution for many years and has done more to correst its past than brazil and china ever will look to your friends in the middle east and india and your own back yard .[/quote]

    Wow really? No kidding? The US has been working on pollution for many years and still ranks on top as the world’s biggest polluters..

    The problem with you Yanks is that you are all so deluded (in other words, narrow minded) and like Laura said hate when other people (especially foreigners) mention that your shit stink just as bad as anyone’s else (in this case worse than everybody else)

    A good dose of reality check would suit you…

  • Laura

    Forrest Allen brown
    Honey, take a look at the statistics .. the US and China are the world’s biggest polluters..
    Yeah, sure Brazil is no good.. what country is good ? there’s none.. we all want energy..

    That’s called development.. More industries need more energy, more planes, more cars, more tvs etc.. that’s the way things have always been..

    So no need to attack me just because I pointed out that the US and China are the two biggest.. Your type of comment is of those people who want a melodrama here who don’t like to hear a real fact… (Who doesn’t know the US and China are the two biggest contributors of the Earth’s pollution ?)

    You can come back with your melodrama that Brazil is this and that.. and the people are bla bla and I should look here and more drama just because I hurt your feelings with a fact… but the fact is still on the table ..

    [quote]the US has been working on polution for many years[/quote]

    Good, I think the US should also work on your english too.. that is if you’re a real American because the way you kill the language is quite astonishing

  • Forrest Allen brown

    (the two biggest polluters)


    drink your water in brazil , look to your bays , rivers , favalas , hospitals , trash dumps , people ,

    then talk about polluters

    the US has been working on polution for many years and has done more to correst its past than brazil and china ever will look to your friends in the middle east and india and your own back yard .

  • Laura

    Greenpeace and other environmental activists are always against anything built by humans anyway.. They believe people should live in caves…

    I want energy in my house and solar panel and windmills may well be environment friendly but they are far from a perfect and reliable source of energy.

    The point is: environmental activists don’t want nuclear plants either..If Brazil decided to go all Nuclear they would moan too like they do in Europe.

    Ive also heard their campagning against airports and airplanes as they pollute the atsmosphere and destroy the Earth’s ozone layer.
    Lock these environmetal activists up in some caves for a good few weeks and then lets see if they don’t change their minds…

    Like Norman said the solution to keep Brazil’s beauty intact (well not just Brazil’s beauty but Earth’s beauty) is for us to colonize another planet.. Or the world’s population to move in to the US or China (the two biggest polluters) and keep the rest of the world intact.

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