EPM’s Biggest Labor Union, Infrastructure Trade Group Sue to Stop Controller’s Halting of Hidroituango Project
Sinpro – the trade union representing most employees of Medellin-based utility giant EPM – and Cámara Colombiana de Infraestructura Seccional Antioquia (CCI-SA) announced December 5 that they have filed a lawsuit in a Cundinamarca Administrative Tribunal seeking to stop Colombia’s Controller-General from enforcing a COP$4.3 trillion (US$1.08 billion) fine that inevitably would delay construction of the US$5 billion Hidroituango hydroelectric project.
The EPM trade union and CCI-SA (which represents Antioquia’s infrastructure companies) say in their lawsuit that the Controller’s decision – if upheld by Colombia’s Council of State – will result in terminating the existing Hidroituango construction contracts, causing construction delays of at least another six to 12 months — costing EPM an estimated COP$5.5 trillion (US$1.38 billion) in lost power sales and possibly threatening Hidroituango’s very existence.
That COP$5.5 trillion loss would come in addition to the new loss of what had been favorable Hidroituango financing terms, as the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) just cancelled a US$450 million loan because of the Controller’s decision.
On a related front, former Antioquia Governor Sergio Fajardo just filed a separate lawsuit suit before an Interamerican Commission on Human Rights tribunal to overturn the Controller’s decision, claiming that the decision arose from the Controller’s own political corruption conspiracies.
Meanwhile, Sinpro and CCI-SA are asking the Cundinamarca court to suspend the Controller’s action until Hidroituango reaches full power capacity, now expected in 2025.
They also ask the court to block any move by the Controller that could result in future payments from project insurer Mapfre being given to the city of Medellin (currently directed by Hidroituango political critic Mayor Daniel Quintero) rather than to EPM for Hidroituango construction costs.