New Los Santos hydro project will be inaugurated Monday

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad and President Laura Chinchilla will be inaugurating the new $600 million Planta Hidroeléctrica Pirrís in the Los Santos region Monday.

Officials predicted in January that the plant would go on line in September, and they made that deadline with two weeks to spare.

The project will generate 136 megawatts. Enough to power 160,000 families, the institute said.

A major feature of the project is the dam. The dam itself is 113 meters high, some 371 feet, and 266 meters long, some
873 feet. The dam is on the division line between León Cortés and Dota. Workmen used 728,000 cubic meters of concrete to build the retaining structure. That’s nearly a million cubic yards.

Another feature is the tunnel to provide the power for the hydro plant. The tunnel carries water 6.5 miles to a generating station in Aserrí.

In May 2008, the hydro project suffered a major setback when Tropical Storm Alma lashed the site.

The Instituto Costarricence de Electricidad and its contractor had to evacuate about 1,100 workers from the project because of the storm, which then inflicted costly damage to the construction.

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