Colombian power company Enel Colombia said on Wednesday that it will suspend indefinitely construction of its 205-MW Windpeshi wind farm in the country after being bogged down with community unrest, and may consider selling the project.
The decision comes not long after the Colombian government successfully mediated between the company and indigenous communities in the La Guajira department, enabling protests against the project to be lifted so construction works could resume.
The Wayuu nation, which lives in the La Guajira Peninsula on both sides of the Colombia-Venezuela border, has clashed with Enel Colombia over the Windpeshi project since 2021, alleging botched public consultation.
In Wednesday’s press release, Enel Colombia made no mention of the government's efforts to clear the air. It said it was not possible to guarantee the pace of construction due to constant blockades and high expectations that exceed its framework for action.
Construction works were halted for nearly 50% of the working days during 2021 and 2022, going up to 60% so far in 2023, despite the company’s permanent openness to dialogue and agreement, according to the company's statement.
Enel Colombia invested more than COP 7.1 billion (USD 1.6m/EUR 1.5m) in projects related to quality education, access to water and economic development, in addition to the resources spent on public consultation commitments, the press release continues.
The suspension means that construction will be halted, while works that are strictly necessary in order to comply with social and environmental commitments will continue, Enel Colombia explained. During the suspension phase, it will evaluate options for selling the project, it said.
"[P]rojects must be sustainable not only from a social but also economic point of view, and their success depends on the joint work between companies, institutions and communities,” commented Eugenio Calderon, manager of the group’s renewables unit Enel Green Power in Colombia and Central America.
Enel Green Power will continue with construction of close to 800 MW of non-conventional renewables in the Colombian departments of Cesar, Magdalena and Atlantico, the company added.
(COP 1,000 = USD 0.23/EUR 0.21)
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