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Project Update

Chiriqui Grande–Panama III Transmission Line, Panama [free access]

September 4, 2019

Developer:  To be awarded


Project details and status: The project will provide the national interconnected system with an unrestricted connection to power generation in the west so that it can carry energy generated in that region to the load centre in the east.


The project entails construction of a double-circuit 317-km, 500 kV transmission line connecting Chiriqui Grande to Panama III, the 500/230 kV Chiriqui Grande substation and expansion of Panama III substation. Also known as the fourth line, the project will have a transport capacity of 1,400 MW under normal operating conditions and 1,800 MW under emergency conditions.


It will be developed in two phases. Phase I will entail construction of the line and substations. In this phase, the line will operate at 230 kV. Phase II will include the 500 KV energisation of the line, for which the construction of the 500 KV yards of the Chiriqui Grande and Panama III substations will undertaken.


Panama’s state transmission company Empresa de Transmision Electrica (ETESA) is planning to develop the project through a competitive bid process. The selected company will be awarded a build, operate and transfer (BOT) contract and will be responsible for the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the fourth line for a period of 35 years.


In February 2018, ETESA initiated the consultation process for the project and it also presented the same before the Ngabe Bugle indigenous community.


In May 2018, the Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama approved the prequalification criteria for the companies planning to participate in the tender to design and construct the transmission line project, following which the prequalification documents for the contractor selection were published. According to the criteria, the company or consortium that wins the tender will also be responsible for obtaining the necessary funds to develop the work, estimated at PAB500 million.


Later, in July 2018, the council extended the prequalification criteria and the deadline to submit the offer from July 12, 2018 to July 27, 2018. Following this, ETESA announced the prequalified bidders for the project. These were Colombian Interconexión Electrica (ISA); China-based China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited; Spain-based Consorcio Chiriqui Transmisora de Energia [formed by Elecnor and Abengoa-Algonquin Global Energy Solutions (AAGES)]; Consorcio Four Seasons (formed by Sterlite Power, RTE International, Egis Group, and Andrade Gutierrez); Consorcio de Transmision Vasco Nunez de Balboa (formed by Northland Power Development Services, Cobra Instalacions Y Servicios, Manitoba Hydro International Limited; and Control Y Montajes Industriales CYMI SA).


During December 2018 and March 2019, the due date of the tender was postponed.


In April 2019, Colombian Interconexión Eléctrica SA (ISA) and China-based China Electric Power and Technology (CET) submitted the final bids for the project. Later In May 2019, ETESA negated the tender for the project, as none of the bidders met the minimum requirements of the tender.


Recently, in August 2019 Panama regulators put forwarded its plans to review the pending initiatives for the project, under which several aspects of the design will be re evaluated.


The construction works of the project were scheduled to begin in 2020 with operations in 2023.