The $750m GasAtacama pipeline-power project has entered commercial operation, according to Endesa of Chile and CMS Energy of the USA which jointly own the project. The project began transporting natural gas from Argentina to Chile and producing power for northern Chile`s electric grid in June.
The first 370 MW unit of the 740 MW Mejillones plant has started acceptance trials using gas from the pipeline. The plant is expected to become a key plant for the region, moving to first place in the order of economically dispatched plants in the northern grid. Mejillones should be fully operational in December 1999.
The introduction of a new fuel displacing coal and oil in the northern Chile energy market will reduce both the cost of power production and the level of air pollution in the area. Mejillones will sell power to distribution holding company Emel as well as to copper mines in the region.