EPM Expanding ‘Green’ Power; Hidroituango Dam Complete; Finances Improve
Medellin-based multinational electric power giant EPM announced July 18 that its 2.4-gigawatt (GW) “Hidroituango” hydroelectric power project in Antioquia has reached a crucial milestone: Completion of the 434.6-meters-high (above sea-level) dam.
Still remaining: installation of turbines and power-control works in the mechanical room, damaged last year by diverting Cauca River water through that room because of collapse of an adjacent, temporary diversion tunnel.
The Hidroituango project – now roughly estimated to cost about US$5 billion, mainly because of a three-year-delay in power output resulting from the collapse of the diversion tunnel – is scheduled to start 600 megawatts (MW) power production in late 2021, with full production gradually increasing in 2022 and 2023 until full capacity is reached in 2024.
Hidroituango ultimately will generate about 17% of the entire Colombian power output, along with untold billions of dollars of zero-emissions, “green” power revenues and profits for EPM (and its sole shareholder, the city of Medellin) in coming decades.
Meanwhile, Colombia’s Controller-General announced July 15 that the three-year delay at Hidroituango – pushing-back the originally scheduled December 2018 partial start-up – probably will cost EPM around COP$4 trillion (US$1.25 billion). However, EPM announced that it’s still studying the Controller’s report and hence wouldn’t provide further comment.
On another front, EPM announced July 11 that it successfully launched a US$1.38 billion bond offering in the international market, further boosting investor confidence in the company despite the Hidroituango setback.
Investors from North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America eagerly responded to the deal, at three times the total offered.
The deal enabled EPM early payback of US$1.03 billion in existing, higher-cost debt and early buyback of another US$1.1 billion in another debt offering, according to the company.
Solar-Power Offering Expands
On yet another front, EPM announced July 10 that it’s expanding its existing solar-power business beyond large-scale commercial and industrial customers to homeowners and small businesses.
The new deal includes financing, installation of solar panels, a required power inverter, the required meter, maintenance, and provision of the required legal paperwork enabling customers to become net generators of power back into the local and national grid.