GDF Suez to Invest $1.7 Billion in Chile Power in Latam Push

GDF Suez SA will invest $1.7 billion on a power plant and transmission lines in Chile as part of a push into Latin American energy projects.

The contract won by subsidiary E-CL through an auction is part of GDF Suez’s goal to become the biggest private power producer in the region within three years, Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet said in Paris. The utility currently trails Enel SpA and AES.

GDF Suez will invest $1 billion on a 375-megawatt thermal power plant in Mejillones, expected to start up in 2018, and another $700 million on a 600-kilometer (370-mile) transmission line to deliver the power to the so-called SIC distribution companies, according to a press release. The utility will supply 5,040 gigawatt hours of power annually for 15 years.

Operator of Europe’s biggest natural-gas network, GDF Suez is expanding in regions like Latin America, Asia and the Middle East as a way to counter sluggish growth in energy demand in its home market. The utility, which is based outside Paris, has been hurt by lower demand for gas-fired power in Europe as well as nuclear outages in Belgium.

GDF Suez will develop about 18,000 megawatts of power capacity in Latin America through 2019 including the giant 3,750-megawatt Jirau hydro dam in Brazil, Mestrallet said today. The utility’s priority countries for future development are Uruguay and Colombia, while industries include large-scale wind farms, gas-fired plants and hydro dams.

“Latin America has for years put in place procedures that have permitted massive investment,” Executive Vice President Isabelle Kocher said.

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