GE will replace the runners on four vertical Francis hydro turbines: two at the La Estrella plant on the Caldera river, and two at the Los Valles plant on the Los Valles river. Both plants are located in the town of Caldera, in Province of Chiriquí.

One unit at each plant will be upgraded in Phase I of the project, with the remaining units dealt with in Phase II. Scheduled completion dates for the two phases are April 2006 and April 2007 respectively. The outages for both stages will take place during low water flow periods, which typically occur in the spring.

The project will increase the output of the La Estrella plant from 42 to 47MW, and Los Valles from 48 to 55MW.

As part of the contract, GE Energy will apply its coating technology to help increase the operating life of the upgraded hydro units.

‘Throughout the negotiations and the planning for this project, AES Panama has worked with GE as a partner, participating in solutions and focusing on results,’ said Tracy Moore, general manager of GE Energy’s hydro business. ‘We look forward to the successful execution and completion of this important project, which will help AES Panama meet the growing power needs of its customers.’