The Bocamina II plant is a coal-fired thermoelectric plant with a capacity of 350 MW, which construction began in 2007, in the Coronel district of the Biobío Region. The plant is part of the Bocamina thermoelectric complex that includes an earlier 128 MW unit built in the 1960s and started up in 1970.
The construction of Bocamina II was carried out in an area adjacent to the first unit, populated by around 1,300 families and characterized by its high urbanization and social vulnerability.
The impacts generated during the construction phase gave rise to an important conflict between the families neighboring the plant. In 2010, Endesa Chile, now Enel Generación Chile, began a relocation process, which was completed in 2018. The resettlement, through the allocation of new houses, located in areas far from their original home, led to a major change in the lifestyle of the affected families. The lack of accompaniment in the process generated certain difficulties in adaptation due to the impacts on the human and socio-economic environment. As an example, the reconstruction of the historical school and of the churches present in the original neighborhoods, which remained in the original area, was not considered. Likewise, some defects were identified in the construction of more than 200 houses, a fact that caused the disagreement of the people affected towards the relocation process.
Enel in Coronel, today
As of January 2017, Enel began a detailed analysis in order to reconstruct its relationship with the affected population and remedy the impacts generated. Together with Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a company with extensive experience in the subject, a study was carried out on the gap which took place with international resettlement standards.
Based on the results obtained, an action plan was prepared to solve the persistent problems and thus end the conflict. Some initiatives included in the plan are:
- Constitution of a technical committee composed of representatives of the company, the community, and CITEC (Universidad del Biobío) focused on identifying the necessary repairs to houses with constructive defects.
- Diagnosis of the impacts generated in the quality of life of the families affected since 2010 due to the deficient construction and quantification of the respective compensations.
- Reconstruction of the historical school and the churches in the new neighborhoods.
- Development of the "My neighborhood, our neighborhood" program that foresees the realization of requalification projects for the new and pre-existing neighborhoods in the plant’s area of influence.
At the same time, in recent months Enel has created innovative initiatives for local economic development, according to the circular economy concept. In the Cerro Obligado community, the company initiated a training project for women in eco-construction and eco-furniture-making. The project was executed in collaboration with the NGO, Sembra, which to date has trained 4 women. The eco-carpenters currently work in their workshop in Coronel where they reuse pallets and other materials from various local industries, converting them into furniture and objects of various kinds. The workshop also has electric vehicles for the delivery of finished products.
Finally, it is worth highlighting the investments in environmental improvements made by the company. The biggest milestone was the construction of the south dome, which covers the coal storage field. The construction of the north dome is currently underway, which will significantly reduce the atmospheric impact generated by this material.
Some of the initiatives of the Coronel Plan
- Cleaning plan in Coronel
The cleaning plan underway in the district involves several hectares next to the plant. The plan consists of the elimination of micro-landfills and the removal of waste materials from dwellings previously inhabited by relocated families, avoiding environmental impacts and situations of abandonment and lack of security.
- Coronel's Open House
Enel Generación Chile’s Open House in Coronel is a reference point for the entire community. The "opening" of this structure reflects Enel's Open Power vision, especially in community relations. The Open House receives the people who request a fair dialogue with the company, and is a joint work space and an instance to request solutions based on the principles and criteria of a complaint management system defined and informed to the entire community.
In the Open House, the company offers the community a team of professionals dedicated to the territory and provides a space for dialogue based on the principles and criteria of transparency, equity, and non-discrimination.
Restoring human capital
In September, the company signed an agreement with various religious organizations of Coronel that were not involved in the relocation process and which churches were removed after the transfer of most of the residential neighborhoods. Through the agreement, Enel undertook to relocate them in the resettlement areas.
An agreement was also signed with the iconic school of the relocated population, which, because of the relocation, was left too far away from its students. The infrastructure will be reconstructed in a new neighborhood, based on a sustainable and innovative educational and construction proposal.
Enel Generación Chile's commitment to restoring the lifestyle of the relocated communities also includes restoring social gathering spaces for the community such as sports centers. In this sense, the construction of a multi-sports field and associated works such as Family Gardens for the Housing Complex, which were started in 2017, are considered.
Finally, the reconstruction of the social center of the Cerro Obligado neighborhood, a space for community and recreational activities, as well as an eco-constructed playground, is considered.
Restoring economic capital
The Energy for Your Enterprise Competitive fund began its second version in December 2017. Its purpose is to train entrepreneurs and provide co-financing for new or existing enterprises. With this initiative, the company seeks to strengthen local economic initiatives such as micro and small businesses, thereby promoting community development. The fund is aimed at small entrepreneurs from the towns and communities of Coronel and, in its second version, it is aimed at ventures related to fishing, handicrafts, and food, among others.