Construction of the Santo Antônio dam was only possible after the completion of an extensive environmental licensing process with IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), which must be submitted by all ventures building power plants and infrastructure works.
In the process, Santo Antônio Energia obtained all three permits that allowed the construction and operation of the project – Preliminary, Installation and Operations – after complying with a number of regulations and undertaking to support sustainable development in the city of Porto Velho and the State of Rondônia.
During the operating phase of the Santo Antônio hydroelectric plant, the progress and results of the commitments undertaken are periodically submitted to IBAMA. They are also monitored by an independent auditor representing the banks financing the project – all signatories to the Equator Principles – thereby ensuring the implementation of Sustainability best practices in accordance with World Bank guidelines.
The first stage of Environmental Licensing consisted of the preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Impact Report (EIA-RIMA). The EIA-RIMA required six years of study, after which it was submitted to the local community through an intense process of interaction, discussion and debate: more than 2,000 people attended 6 public hearings and 64 meetings with different audiences. After that validation, IBAMA approved the document and Santo Antônio Energia obtained the Preliminary License.
Because the EIA-RIMA is a lengthy and detailed document that covers all of the project’s impacts on the region, it guided the development of 28 social and environmental programs that were included in the Basic Environmental Plan (PBA) – a set of measures that mitigate the project’s impact and contribute to the region’s sustainable development. Once IBAMA had approved the PBA, Santo Antônio Energia obtained an Installation permit and began building the plant.
Ten years after the first studies inventorying the Madeira River were conducted and three years after ground was broken, IBAMA granted an Operating Permit, which allowed the company to fill the reservoir and begin generating electricity.
The details of the entire process of studies and licensing can be seen in the following timeline:
- 2001 – 2002: Inventory studies
- 2002 – 2005: Feasibility studies
- 2005: EIA/RIMA Protocol and request for Preliminary License
- 2006 – 2007: Public hearings and participatory process
- 2007: July 10, Preliminary License granted
- 2007: December 10, ANEEL auction
- 2008: February, presentation of Basic Environmental Plan
- 2008: August, Installation Permit granted
- 2008: September, breaking ground
- 2011: July, diversion of Madeira River
- 2011: September, Operating Permit granted
- 2011 – 2012: phased filling of reservoir
- 2012: begins commercial operations
- 2014: September, 32 turbines operating commercially