Envision’s Wind Projects-Argentina
The Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) is considering providing a loan to Envision Energy to support the construction, operation and maintenance of four wind farms in Argentina for a total installed capacity of approximately 185 MW, and its associated transmission lines, related civil engineering works, access roads, substations, and control stations (the “Project”). The windfarms are the following:: (i) the Garcia del Rio Wind Project (10 MW) to be located in the Bahia Blanca Department in the Province of Buenos Aires; (ii) the Vientos del Secano Wind Project (50MW) to be located 60 km to the south of Bahia Blanca city in the Province of Buenos Aires; (iii) the Los Meandros Wind Project (75MW) to be located 30km northeast of the Cutral Co city, in the Neuquén Province; and (iv) the in Cerro Alto Wind Project (50MW) to be located in the Pilaniyeu department in the Province of Rio Negro.
The financing will consist of an A Loan for up to US$40M from the IDB Group and the balance from other co-lenders, up to US$200M in total financing (the “Senior Lenders”), or the issuance of an IDB Group Guaranty (the “Guaranty”) to support the placement of a secured infrastructure bond.
The Project has been preliminarily classified as Category B (Medium Risk) according to the IIC’s Environmental and Social Sustainability Policy. The project categorization will be confirmed based on the results of the environmental and social due diligence, when more information is available. Although none of the four wind parks will be located within an Important Bird Area (IBA), the significance of the proximity to any of these areas and the potential cumulative effects with other existing or planned wind parks needs to be evaluated.
The Project prepared four Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s), one for each windfarm, that were submitted to the corresponding environmental authorities for each province: (i) “Consejo de Ecología y Medio Ambiente” for Parque Eólico Cerro Alto in the Province of Río Negro (approved on December 2, 2011); (ii) “Organismo Provincial para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Provincia de Buenos Aires” for Parque Eólico García del Río (approved on November 15, 2011) and for Parque Eólico Vientos del Secano (approved on November 4, 2015) and; (iii) “Secretaría de Estado de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible” for Parque Eólico Los Meandros in the Province of Neuquén (approved in May 12, 2014).
Land acquisition and easement rights documentation, together with other authorizations and permits, will be reviewed during the environmental and social due diligence (ESDD).
The risks associated with the construction stage of the Project are mostly localized and can be managed with readily available best practices and mitigation measures. These are, among others: (i) work-related safety (handling heavy loads, work at heights, electric charge, etc.); (ii) traffic safety (transportation of heavy machinery and equipment, construction materials and people); (iii) handling solid and liquid waste; (iv) dust and air emissions; (v) noise and vibration; (vi) spills; (vii) erosion; (viii) camp site management; (ix) community engagement, health and safety; and (x) possible archeological and paleontological findings.
The main risks at the operation stage are: (i) potential bird and bat mortality due to collision with turbines and electrocution with transmission lines; (ii) habitat fragmentation; (iii) visual and landscape impacts, including shadow flicker effect; (iv) noise from mechanical and aerodynamic movement.
IIC will engage the support of specialized consultants for the ESDD to ensure the Project meets the requirements of the IIC Sustainability Policy, consider possible cumulative impacts, confirm the project categorization, determine the need of further studies (such as additional bird and bat monitoring), evaluate consultation and disclosure efforts, assess management capacity and management systems to mitigate E&S risks and prepare an environmental and social action plan (ESAP) to address identified gaps. The ESAP will include E&S requirements for contractors, stakeholder engagement plans and management and supervision capacity from the owner. An Environmental and Social Review Summary (ESRS) and the ESAP will be posted on the IIC’s website once the due diligence process is concluded.
ADDENDUM: Four environmental studies have been uploaded.