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    Conexión Energía alerts Expert Panel to CNE adjustments that jeopardize the future of the Antofagasta-Santiago mega-line

    June 6, 2023 - CE Noticias Financieras


      A new dispute was opened on May 25 before the Panel of Experts. Transelec, Pacific Hydro Chile, Empresa de Transmisión Eléctrica (Transemel), Conexión Kimal Lo Aguirre (Conexión Energía) and the Asociación Gremial de Clientes Eléctricos No Regulados (Acenor) presented discrepancies before the body that settles conflicts in the electricity sector regarding the Final Technical Report of the Annual Transmission Expansion Plan for the year 2022.

      This document, issued just a few days ago by the National Energy Commission (CNE), contemplates a total of 48 expansion works, whose investment amounts to a total of approximately US$ 1,485 million. In the case of the national transmission system, a total of 21 expansion works are presented, involving a total investment of approximately US$ 1,094 million. Meanwhile, as for the zonal transmission systems, a total of 27 expansion works are presented with an approximate investment of US$ 391 million.

      In the midst of the various discrepancies, the ones presented by Conexión Energía stand out, as they triggered alerts of adjustments that could jeopardize the future of the Kimal-Lo Aguirre megaline that will link Antofagasta and Santiago, whose investment amount could reach US$ 2 billion and which stands as an enabler of decarbonization.

      The differences lie in the fact that the CNE decided to expand the Kimal substation in some areas that the design of the megaline planned to use.

      "The CNE seriously affects the acquired rights of Conexión Energía to develop the HVDC Kimal-Lo Aguirre line, because it significantly alters the specifications of the bidding conditions of the referred project, on which it based the technical and economic aspects of its proposal in its entirety," the 69-page document states.

      In simple terms, experts explain, the company is asking for both circuits to reach the neighboring areas, and not to reach one area on one side of the substation and the other on the opposite side. What the company is proposing, they say, would imply intervening in the perimeter of the substation, incurring in connections and line crossings not originally contemplated and introducing risks.

      Precisely, with the modification of the connection sections of circuits 1 and 2 of the line between the converter substation and the S/E Kimal 220 kV in the Final Report of the Expansion Plan 2022, in addition to violating the objective of preserving the security of supply in the electric system and guaranteeing the most economical operation for all the facilities of the electric system, it is warned that there are several negative impacts on the development of the megaline.

      "The CNE incurred in an extremely serious error that affects the preservation of the security of service in the electric system, the most economical operation for all the facilities of the electric system, and, consequently, the reliability of the national electric system, by increasing the period of entry into operation to 42 months of the Expansion Work of the S/E Kimal 220 kV, in contravention of the Electric Law and the Transmission Regulation", it is stated.

      In this line, it is pointed out that, in addition, "it makes absolutely unfeasible that the entry into operation of the HVDC Kimal-Lo Aguirre Line takes place no later than May 7, 2029, which could only happen if the 36-month term originally foreseen in the Preliminary Technical Report is maintained".

      Specifically, it is warned that the modification of the connection sections of circuits 1 and 2 will imply -among other consequences- "a significant alteration of the technical-economic conditions established in the bidding conditions, increasing significantly the safety requirements for the construction and operation of the connections of the referred circuits 1 and 2 with the safety standards required by the applicable sectorial regulations and, consequently, the additional costs for the execution of the work that would derive from such requirements, which in any case should be transferred to Conexión Energía".

      Consulted, the general manager of Conexión Kimal-Lo Aguirre, pointed out that "we maintain permanent communication with the CNE as it is the entity that approved the Final Technical Report of the expansion plan. This allows us to coordinate and maintain the planning according to the technical conditions and guarantee the fulfillment of the relevant milestones of the project defined by the National Electric Coordinator and the Ministry of Energy".

      Considering the alert raised by the firm and the relevance that the execution of the megaline has for the electric system, when consulted, the CNE maintains that, in its opinion, "the alternative contained in the 2022 Transmission Expansion Plan would provide greater certainty regarding the execution of the HVDC project, given that the interventions will only be carried out on existing and public service facilities".

      "In any case, the CNE is analyzing the discrepancy presented, with the purpose of seeking the best solution for the electricity system as a whole, which considers avoiding or minimizing eventual delays in the entry into operation of the HVDC line", adds the entity.

      Other discrepancies

      Among the various differences expressed in the documents submitted, it is identified, for example, that Acenor interposes discrepancies on three groups of transmission works projects. For example, one was presented on works in the south of the country that have no net economic benefits for the electricity system until 2032, and another one related to the project to install synchronous condensers in the north, which is motivated exclusively by the entry into operation of the Kimal-Lo Aguirre line.

      Taking into account that the megaline will not enter into operation until 2029 and the capacitors would have a start-up date of 2027, it is pointed out that the expansion plan's demand on the terms will cause the final customers to pay almost two years earlier the annuity, without any support to justify it, and therefore it is recommended that it be postponed.

      In the case of Transelec, the company disagrees -for example- with the incorporation of the "S/E Digüeñes" project in the 2022 Expansion Plan, requesting its replacement and that in its place an expansion work be incorporated in the S/E Los Notros, currently under construction.

      In general, regarding the discrepancies presented before the Panel of Experts, the CNE indicated: "We believe that it is always good that regulatory discussions are resolved in the technical and legal instance defined by the regulation, so, from this point of view, we are not surprised that the different agents use this instance to present their discrepancies with the regulator".

      Regarding the discrepancies to the 2022 Expansion Plan in particular, he commented, "this Commission is analyzing the discrepancies presented, which deal with different types of works and contain various requests, so we do not have a single assessment, which in any case will be reflected in the written responses that we must present to the Panel of Experts".

      In addition to the presentations made by the aforementioned companies, on May 25, questioning was also presented by Sistema de Transmisión del Sur (STS), part of the Saesa Group. The Panel of Experts agreed a few days ago to admit the discrepancies for processing and set the public hearing for July 4.


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