Eduardo Alcalde: public service 24/7

Published on Friday, 16 October 2020

“When I started the age gap was very broad, most were in their fifties or sixties. Meanwhile, I was one of eleven new arrival, all of us in our early twenties, so it took some effort to adapt to working with people old enough to be our parents. But over time we became a very unified and interesting team. They shared their knowledge with us – it was a fascinating process.”

– remembers Eduardo.

Eduardo’s career took him through a wide range of areas, from his first job as an assistant, to becoming an operator, and then a mechanical supervisor, tasked with maintenance of all the equipment used at the Bocamina operation. Throughout his career, fellowship with colleagues played a key role in his professional growth.

“The good thing at Bocamina is that the information is always available between people, which makes it possible to handle every task. Sincerity builds trust, there’s no problem with saying you don’t know something. That makes for personal growth that starts from the top. I’ve worked at other places where, for example, when you get to the control room they won’t let you in, you almost have to go down on bended knee to get in. Here it was totally different, it was ‘come on over, let’s talk, look how this is done.’ That’s what makes the biggest impact on you,” he notes.

Commitment to a purpose

Eduardo has been a member of the 8th Talcahuano Firefighting Brigade for 15 years. He is quick to compare this vocation for service with the work he does at the plant.

“People need us there at the plant, the country needs us. Putting in night shifts that last 8 or 12 hours without a break – that’s what it takes so we all have the power we need.”

– explains Eduardo, adding that this motivation to serve runs in his family.

“My dad worked in heavy industry, in Huachipato. Over time I realized that my old man wasn’t going to be there at my birthday or Christmas because he was doing something important. I have two daughters. As a dad it’s tough for me now, but it’s what I chose, and what I want to do.”

Eduardo explains that as well as the construction of Bocamina II, there was also an adaptation process to adhere to far stricter environmental and technological standards, bringing about a new period of learning that finally positioned Bocamina as a benchmark for environmental management in Latin America.

“Bocamina II was a big help for Bocamina I, to understand the standard of work. The advantage that we younger people had was that we found it easier to adapt. We took it in our stride. It’s nice how the older people taught us how it works from the most basic level, and then we got to teach them the technological side.”

– grins Eduardo.

“One emissions mitigation unit is almost as big as the plant itself. You’d think ‘How is that going to get implemented?’ But it could be done, it could be implemented; we had to train for that and it was highly effective,” he explains, adding that “people have noticed the change, now they don’t see any emissions, any ash. I was part of that change – the domes make a big difference.”

All the same, progress never stops in the world of energy, and on May 31, 2022, Bocamina will take its next and final step: the operation is to shut down, making Enel the first Chilean company to abandon coal-fired power plants. Although Eduardo will be sad to see the end of this era, he also stresses the value of this move.

“It’s sad in personal terms, the companionship that has developed, but this change needs to happen. Coal technology can generate power in a way that previously couldn’t be done with other technologies. But now time has passed and it’s understood that we don’t need so much coal, and we can use cleaner, greener technologies. We’re at the end of a cycle, we need to stay optimistic that we’re going to keep getting better as a company and adapt to new processes,” he concludes.