Brazil’s Environmental Protection Institute (Ibama) has just authorized the construction of another hydroelectric power plant in the Amazon region. This is the Santo Antônio do Jari plant, on the Jari River, which runs along the borders of the states of Pará and Amapá.
It is not to be confused with the Santo Antônio power plant located on the Madeira River on the other side of the Amazon in the state of Rondônia.
Santo Antônio do Jari is a small power plant, planned to have installed capacity of 373 megawatts that will supply cellulose industries in the region. In fact, some of those industries are partners in the construction project.
Praxis in hydroelectric power plant construction in the Amazon is a long list of “environmental and social preconditions” to ensure the protection of flora, fauna and local inhabitants and their way of life.
For example, at the huge Belo Monte hydroelectric project (11,200 MW), there are 40 preconditions. Santo Antônio do Jari will be built in an area where eucalyptus plantations already exist so no further deforestation will be required or expropriation of land belonging to riverside dwellers.
The reservoir behind the Santo Antônio do Jari dam will flood only 31.7 square kilometers, a relatively small area. Among the preconditions is a requirement to maintain river flow sufficient to preserve the “scenic beauty of the Santo Antônio waterfall as a tourist attraction year around.”
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced on July 11 that the government will spend 1.3 billion reais (US$ 825 million) on environmental and social projects related to the construction of the Santo Antônio hydroelectric power plant on the Madeira River in the state of Rondônia.
The plant is scheduled to begin generating electricity at the end of this year. Construction on Santo Antônio began in September 2008. It will generate 3,100 megawatts of electricity.
“When the Santo Antônio power plant is ready it will produce energy for millions of people. And when something this big is built it gives the local economy a big boost. Industries come, job are created, commerce grows and new opportunities appear,” the president explained during her weekly radio broadcast, Breakfast with the President.
On July 5, Dilma was in Rondônia at the site of the Santo Antônio dam for a ceremony marking the closing of the dam and the diversion of the river.
In her program, Dilma emphasized that 90% of electricity in Brazil is generated by non-polluting, renewable sources. “I can say with certainty that we are on the right path, using our hydropower resources in a responsible manner,” declared the president.