Stories

The Pacific never gets closer to Peru’s Andes Mountains than in the La Libertad region. Here, the endangered condor flies high above the power plant named after the small, blind cockerel Gallito Ciego.

Fernando Rodriguez

Fernando Rodriguez at work in the control room.

 

Facts about Gallito Ciego

Statkraft ownership: 100 %
Production: 193 GWh
Capacity: 34 MW

The Gallito Ciego hydropower plant is located 600 kilometres north of Lima in the La Libertad region in Peru. It was purchased by SN Power in November 2003 as part of the Cahua/Energia Pacasmayo acquisition from the US company NRG Energy. The plant is located downstream of the Gallito Ciego dam which is primarily used for irrigation purposes. The dam is not part of the Gallito Ciego assets and is operated by the water authorities.

"Don't lean on the red button, you'll set off the alarm!" warns operations manager Fernando Rodriguez.

The Gallito Ciego hydropower plant, acquired by SN Power in 2003 and transferred to Statkraft early in the summer of 2014, is fully automated and requires only one person to be working in the control room.

Fernando monitors all the processes on his computer screens. He and his colleague, Jorge Paz, take turns working.

They never work at the same time. It makes for lonely hours in front of the many screens. At the power plant where Fernando used to work, he had to be constantly on the lookout for attacks from the guerrilla movement Shining Path that until a few years ago terrorised large parts of Peru.

"Sometimes it was all a bit too exciting," he says. So it's perhaps not so strange that he appreciates the silence in the peaceful and lush Jequetepeque Valley, framed by majestic mountains.

The drive from the coast cuts through a sandy and rocky desert landscape, but as you enter the valley, you are greeted by grazing cattle, giant avocados and trees full of bananas, mangos and papaya.

The river that runs through the valley is why the area is so fertile – the river, and the massive dam that provides both the power plant and the local farms with a regular influx of water.

"Where I used to work, we had to replace the turbines several times in a year, but here there is no need because the water is so clear," Rodriguez says.

There is not much to do here, other than ensuring that everything is running smoothly. The days have their own pace.

In the mornings, sisters Yeimi and Viviana Correa stop by to cook and do laundry before returning to their families in the nearby village. Fernando Rodriguez' family is far away. He has four grown children.

When he is home with his wife, he does not want to go back. But once at work, he quickly settles in.

Deer graze on the shrubbery surrounding the power plant, unaware of the hungry eyes from the impressive condor up in the sky. In the control room of the power plant named after a blind cockerel, Fernando is his own master.

Text: Ellen Stai
Photo: Jimmy Linus
Also published in Statkraft's magazine People & Power no. 4/2014

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Jorge Paz in bedroom

Plant overview
Alter

Artificial irrigation is necessary to make the dry landscape fertile. Hydroelectric production and irrigation go hand in hand.