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Community Hydropower Dam Lights Up Salvadoran Villages

CAROLINA, El Salvador, Oct 7 2020 (IPS) - The people of Potrerillos, a village located in northeastern El Salvador, worked hard to achieve something that many doubted they could do: harness the waters of the Carolina River to install a community mini hydroelectric plant, which supplies them with cheap energy.

The project got underway in 2005 in this village in the municipality of Carolina, in the eastern department of San Miguel, and the plant began operating in 2006. It benefits 40 families not only in that community but also in the hamlet of Los Lobos, near the neighbouring town of San Antonio del Mosco.



The work was carried out with the assistance of the Basic Sanitation, Health Education and Alternative Energies (Sabes) association. Financing was provided by the government of the Spanish region of Navarra, and funds for the electromechanical equipment came from the Energy and Environment Alliance with Central America.

The total cost of the project was 120,000 dollars.

The design included an aspect that guarantees environmental sustainability: the water that moves the turbine returns to the river, so its flow is not affected by the mini power plant.

The lives of the inhabitants of Potrerillos, who are mostly subsistence farmers, have improved with the arrival of electricity.

Gone are the days when nights were lit by candles and kerosene lamps, and now the villagers can watch TV, enjoy a cold drink or charge their cell phones at home, without having to go to Carolina.

One important advantage is the cost of the energy: local households pay between two and five dollars a month, compared to a monthly power bill of around 25 dollars in neighbouring villages.

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