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South American nations to solicit power grid study

Nov 19, 2007 - Reuters UK

SANTIAGO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia expect to complete a feasibility study on a regional electricity grid by December 2008, energy officials from the five countries said on Monday.

The South American countries said they will solicit international bids for the study, to be paid for between them, in March next year.

Chile is leading the regional grid initiative as it seeks to broaden its energy sources to feed a booming economy and the energy-hungry northern mining industry, home to the world's largest copper mines.

"This is a feasibility study and it will allow each of the countries to look at the technical, economic and strategic factors involved in making a decision that will make an interconnected grid a reality," Bolivian Energy Minister Carlos Villegas said at a conference in the Chilean capital Santiago.

"If the result is positive, Bolivia will take decisions accordingly and hold conversations with the Chilean government and the countries seeking the inter-connection," he added.

Chilean Energy Minister Marcelo Tokman said the study will address economic, engineering and regulatory issues in each country.

"Peru can export a lot of energy to its brother countries ... so we salute the Chilean initiative as it opens a horizon for integration," said Peru Deputy Energy Minister Pedro Gamio.

The plan has the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). (Reporting by Monica Vargas, writing by Pav Jordan; Editing by David Gregorio)