United States power company El Paso Energy will invest $3m in environmental programmes linked to the $500m, 870 MW Macae merchant thermoelectric project, which is being constructed in Macae municipality, on the north coast of Rio de Janeiro state, the company announced.

Macae Merchant will start operations in October this year with 390 MW, a further 80 MW will come on line in December this year, and by end-2002 the project will be up to full capacity, according to a source linked to El Paso speaking to BNamericas.com.

This programme envisages the implementation of eight projects to benefit the environment in the area of Macae and elsewhere in Rio de Janeiro state.

The programme includes supporting the work of the regional conservation unit in the Parque del Desengano nature reserve, which has 22,400ha, 283 plant species and a wide variety of fauna. It also involves the creation of another nature reserve, Parque Serra da Concordia, with 1,000ha; and recovery of the original vegetation of Macae river basin and the basin itself.

The program will also provide support for the Santa Maria Magdalena state park; a study of the water in the Macae river basin; environmental education programs for Macae residents; and creation of an environmental protection area (APA) in the Macae river basin.

El Paso will also carry out a study of atmospheric emissions in Rio de Janeiro state, identifying sources of contamination, which will be done over 12 months and will help the government of Rio de Janeiro state to develop new environmental policies.