Saturday , February 4 2023

Chivilingo Central: the world's oldest hydroelectric power station and national drop


In the province of Arauca, 14 kilometers south of Lota, the Hydroelectric Chivilero fights against the passing of time. In 1896 Isidora Goyenechea, by order of the widow Luis Cousiño, was created and financed by the Lota Coal Mining Company in 1897.

In that period of history, he marked a milestone: he became the first Chilean type and the second in South America.

Today, it is the oldest hydroelectric power plant in the world.

Of course, the construction was boosted by mining boom at the time. In 1895, the Lota mining site had an underground 12 km ground. And the minerals that had been extracted until then were made by horseback riding.

There was only one solution: replace this method by establishing an electric train system.

Cousin's dream was. And her widow decided to become a reality. In 1873, Thomas Alba Edison suggested it. He was responsible for its design when it was a commercial building.

In the meantime, it was carried out by the North American company Consolidated Co-operation and construction, and electrical equipment by Schuckert & Co in Nuremberg, Germany.

The equipment that started the boats in the port of Lot was driven by 20 oxen joints. But, in any case, there was a lack of essential material for today's construction: cement.

The local solution was simple and creative: konchilla, the land of the same Chivilingo river and many … chicken eggs.

This construction, located in more than five hectares, has two Pelton turbines with 215 kilowatts (315 horsepower, 400 volt and 360 amperes, 50 Hz).

Thus, in 1897, the generation and transmission of electricity became the cheapest and most adaptable alternative to mining.

The energy was transmitted through a 10 kilometer 10-kilometer line, due to the Lota mineral. The machining, the transformed and distributed electricity, used the extraction machines and pumps and extracted the minerals with a 12 kilometer depth.

In addition to supplying electricity to the mines, the basis of economic development in the region was also the city of Lota. This scenario has made possible the development of other industries in the region.

Due to the lack of water in the summer of 1908, the thermal installation was also installed. It was part of the Chilean System of Central Compact Systems (SIC) and was granted by 430 kWh.

This work was 77 years old until 1974.

At that time some authorities wanted to sell to the United States, which was completely disarmed and interested in fully recovering in North America, through the link with Thomas Alba Edison's director.

Get away from your father

The historical value of the project, and therefore the pressure of Radio Bío Bío at that time, was declared a National Historic Monument in 1990. Additionally, in 2004, the World Electrical Engineering Institute became the World Engineering Milestone.

In 1998, the town of Lota left the administration of the Chilean Foundation as a tourist site.

However, the structure of the plant, which has already been suffering in the past, was seriously damaged by earthquake in February 2010.

Since then, the plant has been closed for a restoration: at the end of May it almost completely abandoned and deteriorated. No discussions to recover.

At this time, it's a difficult situation. You can not participate or improve public investment because it is private. There is no financial project, no restoration of this national monument.

Today, 5 hectares are used for summer purposes, more than 15 thousand people per holding of the plant, which can undergo a constant collapse.

Yes, this time it is the oldest plant in the world. But it gradually falls and begins to destroy its history: Thursday fell on the roof.

This Friday alone the authorities reacted.

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