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20 MW wind project in Panama on hold pending transmission agreement

The development of a 20 MW wind project in Panama is pending a definitive agreement between the state transmission company Etesa and the country's energy policy commission (CNPE), according to sources connected to the project. Germany's Lahmeyer International has recently completed a 15 month wind study at six sites at tower heights of 20-40 metres, says Etesa's Fernando Vargas. The studies were carried out as part of a project to enable the commercial development of the best of the three most promising sites. The chosen site has been named as Cerro Tute in the province of Veraguas. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is responsible for contracting a consultant to pull together all the study's findings and drawing up a plan for development of the project. Before calling for bids from consultants, UNDP is waiting for confirmation from Etesa of its continuing participation in the project: the state is winding down its role in Etesa and one of the areas that it will withdraw from is the studies area, UNDP's Alida Spadafora says. Etesa must sign an agreement with CNPE for UNDP to proceed with contracting the consultant. "We don't see any problems in this happening," a senior power sector official says. "It will be done, and in the short term." Etesa has put up $200,000 so far, and through UNDP, the Global Environment Facility has agreed to provide up to $340,000 financing for the project, including Lahmeyer's studies and contracting the consultant. "We hope it goes through," UNDP's Spadafora says. "The money is there and if it is not used on this project it will go elsewhere." The final project may be developed as two smaller ones rather than one 20 MW project, Vargas adds, as Congress was scheduled to start consideration of a proposed transmission law last month that would mean further incentives for renewable power generation projects for up to 10 MW.

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