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Hydro-transitions : an environmental history of Chilean electrification de Montmollin, Peter B. 2021

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  HYDRO-TRANSITIONS: AN ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY OF CHILEAN ELECTRIFICATION  by  Peter B. de Montmollin B.A., Syracuse University, 2009  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS in The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Geography)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  January 2021  © Peter B. de Montmollin, 2021       ii    The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the thesis entitled:  Hydro-Transitions: An Environmental History of Chilean Electrification  submitted by Peter B. de Montmollin  in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Geography  Examining Committee: Matthew Evenden, Geography Department, UBC Supervisor  Juanita Sundberg, Geography Department, UBC Supervisory Committee Member              iii    Abstract This thesis examines the history of electrification and hydropower in Chile during the 20th century. Drawing from environmental history, technology history, and science and technology studies, it asks three central questions: How did technology, nature and society interact and shape the hydro-electrification of Chile? What were the economic, environmental and political consequences of damming Chilean rivers for power? And, more broadly, how did rivers, hydroelectric stations and power lines influence territorial and developmental imaginaries and policies over this period? The empirical foundations of the research are primary documents consulted at various archives and libraries in Santiago, Chile, as well as some online repositories. The thesis is structured loosely around the 1943 national electrification plan, which set the terms for constructing a large technological system to exploit Chile’s rivers for power. It explores the origins and creation of the plan, the execution of a key project on the Laja River in south-central Chile, and the failure of another project in Aysén in southern Patagonia. Using these case studies, the thesis makes three main arguments about the history of electricity and hydro power in Chile: 1) that electrification was a key component of the mid-century development project of state-led industrialization; 2) that the construction of the national grid, which is defined as a large envirotechnical system, reveals the limitations to technology’s capacity to capture and control the environment; and 3) that the process of national electrification was a bridge to nation-building processes initiated in the 19th century, as well as to environmental conflicts and energy politics that occurred during and after the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).             iv    Lay Summary This thesis tells the story of hydropower and electricity in Chile during the 20th century. Using archival sources, it seeks to understand how the environment and technology intersected with the politics and history of dams and power grids in South America. By exploring these connections, the thesis examines an underappreciated side of Chile’s modern political and economic history. It also highlights some limits to technology-based development and the different ways that the past matters for contemporary debates about energy and the environment.                       v    Preface This thesis is original, unpublished, independent work by the author, Peter B. de Montmollin.                           vi    Table of Contents  Abstract ....................................................................................................................................................... iii Lay Summary ............................................................................................................................................. iv Preface .......................................................................................................................................................... v Table of Contents ....................................................................................................................................... vi List of Figures ............................................................................................................................................ vii List of Abbreviations ............................................................................................................................... viii A Note on Orthography and Terminology .............................................................................................. ix Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................................... xi Ch. 1 – Introduction .................................................................................................................................... 1 The Nature of the Grid .............................................................................................................................. 4 Rivers and Power in Chilean Historiography ............................................................................................ 7 Methods and Sources .............................................................................................................................. 13 Ch. 2 – The Environmental Origins of El Plan ...................................................................................... 17 Early Visions and Early Failures............................................................................................................. 20 Riparian Cartographies ........................................................................................................................... 24 A Chilean Policy for Chile ...................................................................................................................... 27 A National Plan ....................................................................................................................................... 32 Conclusion .............................................................................................................................................. 38 Ch. 3 – Taming the Laja River ................................................................................................................ 41 Origins of a Lake and a Region .............................................................................................................. 43 The State in the Upper Basin .................................................................................................................. 45 The First Multi-Use Agreement .............................................................................................................. 49 Electrifying the Greater Bío-Bío Region ................................................................................................ 52 Diverging Development Paths ................................................................................................................ 56 A Battery in the High Andes ................................................................................................................... 59 Conclusion .............................................................................................................................................. 64 Ch. 4 – Hydro-Legacies in Patagonia ...................................................................................................... 71 Southern Waterpowers ............................................................................................................................ 73 Geostrategic Rivers ................................................................................................................................. 79 Factories at the End of the World ........................................................................................................... 84 Southern Waterpowers Revisited ............................................................................................................ 86 Conclusion .............................................................................................................................................. 92 Ch. 5 – Final Remarks .............................................................................................................................. 98 Bibliography ............................................................................................................................................ 106 Appendix: Historical GIS ....................................................................................................................... 120  vii    List of Figures Figure 1 – Power Generation, 1960-1975 ................................................................................................... 15 Figure 2 – Chile & the Electrical Regions .................................................................................................. 16 Figure 3 – ENDESA’s Hydro Projects ....................................................................................................... 40 Figure 4 – Contrasting Demand Curves ...................................................................................................... 66 Figure 5 – Region 4 & Abanico .................................................................................................................. 67 Figure 6 – Abanico, front view (c. 1950) .................................................................................................... 68 Figure 7 – ENDESA Line Crew, near Abanico (c. 1950) ........................................................................... 68 Figure 8 – Laguna del Laja, with view of Antuco Volcano (1968) ............................................................ 69 Figure 9 – Excavation of El Toro Powerhouse (n.d.) ................................................................................. 69 Figure 10 – Laja Hydroelectric Complex ................................................................................................... 70 Figure 11 – Aysén Landscape, near Lake Gen. Carrera (1948) .................................................................. 95 Figure 12 – Pascua High Dam .................................................................................................................... 96 Figure 13 – Aysén Hydro Sites ................................................................................................................... 97 Figure 14 – Hydropower Dependence in Chile ........................................................................................ 105 Figure 15 – Power Generation on the Central Grid .................................................................................. 105               viii    List of Abbreviations BCEOM = Bureau Central d’Etudes pour les Equipements d’Outre-Mer  CCDA = Comisión Coordinadora para el Desarrollo de Aisén* CEPAL = Comisión Económica para América Latina CGEI = Compañía General de Electricidad Industrial S.A. Chilectra = Compañía Chilena de Electricidad Ltda. CORFO = Corporación de Fomento de la Producción CPEC = Comisión Permanente de Energía y Combustibles* CTE = Comité Técnico de Energía* ENDESA = Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A. GWh = Gigawatt-hour (1,000,000 kWh) IBRD = International Bank for Reconstruction and Development JICA = Japan International Cooperation Agency kV = Kilovolt kW = Kilowatt kWh = Kilowatt-hour m3 = cubic meter m3/s = cubic meter per second MW = Megawatt (1,000 KW) MWh = Megawatt-hour (1,000 kWh) ODEPLAN = Oficina de Planificación SAESA = Sociedad Austral de Electricidad S.A. TVA = Tennessee Valley Authority *These abbreviations appear in the footnotes only. For additional archival notations, see the Bibliography.      ix    A Note on Orthography and Terminology Unless indicated otherwise, all English translations of direct quotes taken from Spanish sources are my own. I have occasionally used Spanish words or phrases in the main text of this study. In these cases, I have put the Spanish words in italics followed by a parenthetical containing an English translation, except when the meaning is clear from the context, or from a previous translation. Naming custom in Spanish-speaking countries usually bestows two surnames – the paternal surnamed followed by the maternal surname, in most cases. In this study, I spell out both surnames on first reference to any persons named according to this tradition. In all subsequent references to that individual, I use only the paternal surname (sometimes accompanied by a given name). On some occasions, however, both surnames are used on second reference. I did my best to adhere to this usage when it was apparent from primary sources or published works that an individual used both surnames. For example, “Eduardo Reyes Cox” is referred to as “Reyes Cox” on second reference. The Chilean government’s Irrigation Department underwent several name changes during the 20th century. From its creation until 1929, it was known as the Inspección General de Riego. In 1929, it was rechristened the Departamento de Riego, a name it retained until 1953, when it was elevated to the status of Dirección de Riego. Finally, in 1997 it became the Dirección de Obras Hidráulicas, which it has maintained up to the present day. These changes often coincided with modifications to the bureaucratic structure of the ministries of the executive branch, and they often reflect material impacts on the funding and autonomy of the department. As this administrative history is not a central concern for this study, and for simplicity’s sake, I will refer to this institution in English as “the Irrigation Department” throughout the text. Footnoted citations of primary sources, however, will conserve the institution’s name (in Spanish) at that moment in time. Similarly, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas has undergone numerous name changes since its creation in 1887, variously known as the Ministerio de Industrias y Obras Públicas, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Vías de Comunicación, and the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. For the same reasons outlined above, I will simply refer to it as the Ministry of Public Works (or Public Works Ministry) throughout the text, except in footnoted citations involving primary sources. The one exception with this ministry is for the period spanning from 1927 to 1942, when the Ministry of Public Works, along with several other government bureaucracies, was replaced by the Ministerio de Fomento (Ministry of Development). Since translating “Fomento” as “Public Works” is somewhat awkward, I will use “Ministry of Development” for this period, with a short footnote to remind the reader of the change in terminology.  Finally, in Chapter 4, I use the spelling “Aysén” to refer to the region of Chile known by that name, although it is sometimes rendered as “Aisén.” The only exceptions to my usage are found in the titles of x    primary or secondary sources. I follow the same convention for other place names in Aysén with similar orthographical variations – for example, Coyhaique (Coihaique). In the same chapter, for the sake of clarity and consistency, I use the Chilean toponyms for transboundary rivers, lakes and other geographical features that are known by different names in Argentina.                    xi    Acknowledgements Since beginning this project, I have benefited enormously from the generosity, wisdom and kindness of countless friends and colleagues. I am happy to acknowledge them here. In Vancouver, the faculty, staff and graduate students of the Geography Department at UBC provided a welcoming community as I readjusted after long absences from both academia and Canada. I am extremely fortunate to have stumbled upon a wonderful group of friends and colleagues. Matthew Evenden went above and beyond as the supervisor of this project and was a constant source of support, even as the unprecedented events of the last year profoundly altered life at UBC and around the world. He has provided encouragement and inspiration over the last two and a half years, has generously read and commented on the present thesis in its numerous iterations, and has generally helped me find my way through the intellectual maze of researching and writing history. At a later stage in the writing of this thesis, Juanita Sundberg provided generous comments and criticisms that allowed me to sharpen my arguments and to step back to consider the broader importance of the research beyond my personal interests. I was also fortunate to work with her as a teaching assistant, an experience that made my first attempts at teaching much less daunting. I also thank Merje Kuus, who read an early draft of Chapter 2, and Sally Hermansen, who showed me the ropes of GIS and spatial history. Eric Leinberger created the wonderful maps that accompany this thesis, graciously humoring even my most exacting requests. Throughout my time in the master’s program, Danny Wong has patiently responded to numerous queries about the minutiae of graduate studies. I thank Danny, Eric and the entire staff of the Geography Department, who make studying at UBC a truly enjoyable and welcoming experience. I am also fortunate to have shared classrooms, offices and friendships with a wonderful group of young geographers. I extend my thanks to Fernanda Rojas Marchini, Daniel Pérez Gámez, Caolan Barr, Melpetkwe Matthew, Andrew Schuldt, Jonathan Luedee, and James Rhatigan. Fernanda and Daniel, in particular, read and commented on sections of this thesis. Funding support for this project was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the UBC Faculty of Arts, and the UBC Geography Department.  In Chile, my debts are numerous. Researching electrification in Chile would have been impossible without the knowledge, generosity and friendship of countless librarians and archivists. I am especially grateful to Evelyn Lagos Aros and Maddalena Maggi of the Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional, Fabiola Neira Rodríguez of the Biblioteca CORFO, José Ignacio Fernández Pérez and the entire the staff of the Archivo Nacional de la Administración, Teresa Aracely Guerrero Riquelme of the Biblioteca Central at the Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas (Universidad de Chile), and Joan Peña Alcaide and Ingrid Espinoza Cuitiño of the Centro de Documentación at CIREN. I also thank the staff at the Biblioteca Nacional de Chile, the Biblioteca Ingeniería Civil at the Universidad de Chile, and the Instituto xii    de Ingenieros de Chile. Carolina Ricke Hunting facilitated my access to the collections housed at the Biblioteca Enel. After I returned to Vancouver, the staff at the Museo Histórico Nacional de Chile and Memoria Chilena assisted with securing permissions and high-resolution copies of photos and images reproduced in this thesis. In addition, the staff at the Archivo Técnico in the Dirección de Obras Hidráulicas and the Centro de Información de Recursos Hídricos in the Dirección General de Aguas expeditiously located and scanned documents that I requested from afar. Early on in this project, Ricardo Nazer Ahumada gave me sound advice on researching electrification in Chile and kindly furnished me with copies of his detailed studies of Chilean energy companies. In the midst of my research, Fernando Purcell provided a firm grounding in the vast Chilean historiography and pointed me toward new terrain in the archives. He has also generously shared materials from his own research. Rodrigo Sandoval gave me further advice and insight into the possibilities of Chile’s archives. I also thank Silvia Castillo Ibáñez for sharing her unpublished history of Chilectra. I benefited tremendously from the conversations and company of Ana María Gutiérrez. Beatriz Gonzalez was a kind and welcoming host during the three months I spent in Santiago in 2019.  My family has supported me throughout this endeavor and all of the strange turns that my life has taken. I only wish it did not keep us so far apart geographically. I am especially grateful to my mother, Catherine Starr, for patiently copy editing this entire manuscript. It is much improved thanks to her thorough reading. Finally, and most importantly, I am forever grateful for having the great fortune to meet Nicole Canivilo Rojas many years ago in the offices of The Santiago Times, not long after I first stepped foot in Chile. Without her, none of this would have been possible.       1    Ch. 1 – Introduction In 1968, Chile was experiencing one of its worst droughts on record up to that point. The affected area spanned the Norte Chico region to the southern province of Malleco, containing roughly 75% of the population and most of the country’s agricultural and industrial production. This area experiences a regular dry season in spring and summer, when glacier- and snow-fed rivers are the main source of fresh water for around six months (September-February). Normally, the ice and snow in the Andes mountains are replenished during the wetter winter months, but precipitation was unusually low before the summer of 1968, with rainfall deficits as high as 80% in the driest regions.1 To make matters worse, the previous winter had been drier than usual, further reducing the frozen reserves of water for the rivers flowing down to the coast. By July, the government had declared a disaster area in 12 provinces, appointed a special commission to coordinate relief efforts and earmarked 2% of the national budget for emergency aid.2 It also mandated energy rationing on the central electrical grid, powered primarily by hydroelectric stations built on the same Andean rivers that watered crops in the summer. Until the end of the previous year, ENDESA, the national power company, had downplayed the threat, claiming that the reservoirs behind its dams were a form of drought insurance and that the dry spell “did not exist” as far as electricity consumers were concerned.3 By the following August, the company’s tone had changed considerably. In its monthly newsletter, ENDESA warned of “rivers erased by nature” and called the drought a “silent earthquake,” evoking Chile’s long history of seismic catastrophes.4 As the drought persisted, most hydroelectric stations operated below their full capacity, producing 16% less energy compared to 1967 (see Figure 1 at the end of this chapter). Just as the energy crisis was coming to a head, ENDESA inaugurated the Rapel arch dam in central Chile in mid-June to much fanfare. El Mercurio, the newspaper of the Santiago elite, ran five pages of articles on the dam, at that point the largest power project in the country. One headline proclaimed that “Chile is one of the countries with the greatest and most abundant water resources.”5 Just days after inauguration, however, the government announced the first energy rationing measures. One official explained that, on account of the drought, Rapel was struggling to fill its reservoir and had not yet reached full production; he further warned that  1 Compared to the average annual rainfall over the previous three decades. Hans Schneider, “La sequía de 1968 en Chile: algunos antecedentes,” Investigaciones Geográficas 18–19 (1969-68): 159–76. 2 Ministerio de Agricultura, Decreto 340, “Declara afectadas por catástrofe, a causa de la sequía, las comunas de las provincias que indica,” 3 July 1968, Fondo MA, vol. 1774, ARNAD. 3 “La sequía no afectará suministro eléctrico,” La Nación (Santiago), 10 Dec. 1967, BCN-ARP; “Generación hidráulica de la Endesa tiene seguro contra la sequía,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 153, September 1967.  4 “La sequía: un terremoto silencioso,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 163, August 1968. 5 The articles were published in the July 21 edition of the newspaper, on pages 18-22. The headline cited, “Chile es uno de los Países con Mayores y Más Abundantes Recursos Hidráulicos,” appears on page 22. Just two years earlier, the same newspaper had called the Rapel project a “permanent solution” for supply security on the central grid. “Rapel: Una Solución Permanente Para un Suministro Adecuado,” El Mercurio (Santiago), 15 March 1966, BCN-ARP. 2    the dam “will not solve this problem” of the drought.6 Power rationing continued into early months of 1969. At the end of April, a heavy rainstorm and more than 60 centimeters of snowfall in the cordillera signaled that the drought was at last coming to an end.7 Still, it would take another year for the hydroelectric stations to produce at pre-drought levels. ENDESA engineers later estimated that the supply restrictions had eliminated some 300 kWh of demand, equivalent to around 5% of total annual consumption at the time.8 The drought laid bare the vulnerabilities of the central power grid and elicited a brief public questioning of the national electrification plan, which ENDESA had followed since its creation in 1944. The strategy outlined in the plan was premised on exploiting the abundant energy in Chile’s rivers and interconnecting power stations across geographic regions with complementary hydrological cycles. In theory, configuring the grid in this fashion permitted its operators to redistribute the production workload when rivers in different regions experienced seasonal flow variations, thereby ensuring a steady supply of energy throughout the year. But as the drought had demonstrated, that reliability depended on the caprices of the weather throughout the elongated Chilean territory. In July 1968, an editorial in El Mercurio called for new investments in coal power and other sources immune to the elements.9 ENDESA’s general manager, Renato Salazar, responded several days later in an interview with the newspaper. The plan, he explained, was carefully and deliberately conceived to ensure the “efficient and coordinated” exploitation of Chile’s energy resources, which already included some thermoelectric sources. Everything was planned for, seemed to be the message. Besides, Salazar added, it would be foolish for Chile to reverse course at this stage of the plan; the cost was too great.10 The newspaper’s editorial staff did not pursue the matter any further, and over the next two decades ENDESA built more and larger hydroelectric stations, increasing the grid’s dependence on water for power. Nonetheless, the experience of drought-induced rationing was a wake-up call that Chile’s rivers were not so easily subordinated and subdued by technology. ENDESA personnel undertook long-term studies of historical rainfall patterns and thought more carefully about how to value and manage water stored in the reservoirs, a process also driven by the expanding tendrils of the grid’s high-voltage transmission system, which allowed for large blocks of energy to move over long distances. They also  6 “Se restringirá consumo de electricidad en el país,” El Diario Ilustrado (Santiago), 28 June 1969, BCN-ARP; “Restricción de Consumo Eléctrico,” El Mercurio (Santiago), 28 June 1969, BCN-ARP. 7 “La vuelta del agua,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 171, May 1969. 8 Luis Court M. and Cristián Maturana B., “Planificación del uso de los recursos de agua en Chile,” in Los recursos de agua en Chile y su utilización en la generación de energía eléctrica, ed. AIE (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros de ENDESA, 1974), 90. Annual net consumption figures for the 1960s are found in Banco Central de Chile, Indicadores económicos y sociales de Chile 1960-2000 (Santiago, Chile, 2001). 9 “Fuentes de Energía Eléctrica,” El Mercurio (Santiago), 23 July 1968, BCN-ARP. 10 “Sobre Política Eléctrica,” El Mercurio (Santiago), 2 Aug. 1968, BCN-ARP. 3    briefly flirted with more radical interventions, including experiments with “glacier fumigation,” which entailed spraying the ice with powdered dyes from the air to induce artificial melting.11 Power rationing was not a new experience for Chileans. Recurring energy shortages had afflicted Santiago and the surrounding areas from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s, including a blackout that left the capital in the dark for two days in April 1952.12 Local and international political and economic factors, including the outbreak of WWII and a rates dispute with the large private utility serving Santiago, contributed to the problem. Those earlier shortages were also, at their root, a case of demand growth outpacing the expansion of a nascent electrical system confined to a single geographic region.13 The “silent earthquake” of 1968 was different in scale and nature. It was the product of environmental forces and ecological linkages embedded within but ultimately outside the control of an emerging large technological system that would come to span roughly 1,300 kilometers north to south. The threat of drought continued to hover over the central grid as it expanded amid the tectonic political and economic shifts in the power sector (and Chilean society at large) following the military coup in 1973.14 Hydro’s share of the electricity supply eventually diminished after the 1990s, but dams and reservoirs remain important to the operation of the grid and to the politics of energy in Chile. A recent push to incorporate “unconventional” sources like wind and solar energy is, as several historians recently noted, an attempt to alter the course of (energy) history.15 This thesis seeks to understand the role of hydropower in Chile during the 20th century. It asks: How did technology, nature and society interact and shape the hydro-electrification of Chile? What were the economic, environmental and political consequences of damming Chilean rivers for power?  And, more broadly, how did rivers, hydroelectric stations and power lines influence territorial and developmental imaginaries and policies over this period?  11 “Fumigan glaciares para derretir sus hielos,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 175, September 1969; “Oscurecen Glaciares de Los Andes Para Obtener más Agua,” La Nación (Santiago), 20 Oct. 1969, BCN-ARP. 12 ENDESA, ENDESA: 50 años de futuro (Santiago, Chile: Editorial Lord Cochrane, 1993), 55. 13 See ENDESA, 47–49; Mauricio Folchi, Gustavo Blanco-Wells, and Stefan Meier, “Definiciones tecno-políticas en la configuración de la matriz energética chilena durante el siglo XX,” Historia 52, no. 2 (2019): 373–408. 14 The Sistema Interconectado Central (SIC) is the largest grid in Chile, now serving around 90% of the population. It is also the most hydro-dependent system. A northern grid, powered mostly by coal and diesel stations, supplies the mining industry, while a few small systems provide power to isolated towns and communities in Patagonia. The SIC and the northern grid were interconnected in 2017, forming the Sistema Eléctrico Nacional (SEN). 15 Folchi, Blanco-Wells, and Meier, “Definiciones tecno-políticas.” There is a vast literature on energy transitions. The “transition” in the title of this study, however, is used in a broad sense to refer to technological, environmental, political and economic change. While an energy transition can encompass all these things, the study’s engagement with this literature remains for the most part oblique, largely because the empirical data collected does not, in my view, support an overt discussion of energy transitions. Nonetheless, the energy transition literature has been a formative influence on my thinking about Chilean electrification. Key texts include Martin V. Melosi, Coping with Abundance: Energy and Environment in Industrial America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1985); E. A. Wrigley, Continuity, Chance and Change: The Character of the Industrial Revolution in England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); David E. Nye, Consuming Power: A Social History of American Energies (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998); Rolf Peter Sieferle, The Subterranean Forest: Energy Systems and the Industrial Revolution (Cambridge: The White Horse Press, 2001); Vaclav Smil, Energy Transitions: History, Requirements, Prospects (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010); Christopher F. Jones, Routes of Power: Energy and Modern America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014). 4    The Nature of the Grid To understand the complex dynamics and linkages of nature, technology and society, some historians have turned to envirotechnical analysis, a framework that draws from the theoretical and methodological toolkits of environmental history, technology history, and science and technology studies (STS).16 This approach attempts to bridge mutual and complementary interests of the three fields – for example, by studying the ecologies of built environments and “non-natural” landscapes, or by exploring the ways that non-human natures shape technology. Crucially, the relationships between nature, technology and society are not treated as unidirectional. As Sara Pritchard has observed, technological objects and systems are both mediators of human interactions with nature and artifacts of those same interactions.17 Human-built technologies – and, of course, humans themselves – manipulate and transform ecological systems at the same time that the material constraints of nature shape and limit what those technologies can accomplish and, in some cases, lead to unexpected, potentially disruptive results. Similarly, proponents of this approach have recognized that such divisions as non-human/human and ecological/technological are tenuous, blurred, highly permeable or even entirely false, building on the work of environmental historians and scholars in other disciplines who have picked apart the nature/culture dualism.18 Analytically, an envirotechnical approach offers two useful tools for this study. First, it provides a window into the materiality of energy systems. In most cases, consumers flipping a light switch are oblivious to their place within an extensive infrastructure built to extract, transform and transport energy. Similarly, for most end-users of electricity, the complexities of the physical forces underlying the operation of that infrastructure – from the weather around a reservoir to the intrinsic properties of electricity that make it difficult to store – are unlikely to be a daily concern, so long as the system remains stable. As the drought in Chile illustrates, perturbations caused by those forces can suddenly throw into relief a large system that was invisible to all but a few of its participants. In a less disruptive but no less important fashion, those same forces intervene in and shape the schematic designs and technical decisions of the builders and operators of the system, as later chapters will demonstrate. Recent scholarship in  16 For an overview of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological issues of this approach, see Sara B. Pritchard, Confluence: The Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhône (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), chap. 1. For surveys of the literature, see Jeffrey K. Stine and Joel A. Tarr, “At the Intersection of Histories: Technology and the Environment,” Technology and Culture 39, no. 4 (1998): 601–40; Hugh S. Gorman and Betsy Mendelsohn, “Where Does Nature End and Culture Begin? Converging Themes in the History of Technology and Environmental History,” in The Illusory Boundary: Environment and Technology in History, ed. Martin Reuss and Stephen H. Cutcliffe (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010), 265–90. 17 Pritchard, Confluence, 13. For an envirotechnical approach to water history in Latin America, see Mikael Wolfe, Watering the Revolution: An Environmental and Technological History of Agrarian Reform in Mexico (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017). 18 The historian Richard White famously described the Columbia River as an “organic machine,” a fusion of technological and ecological elements blurring the lines between the social and the natural. Richard White, The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River (New York: Hill and Wang, 1996). The scholarship on the nature/culture dualism is vast. Some classic texts in environmental history include Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution (London: Harper & Row, 1980); William Cronon, ed., Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1996). For critical considerations by geographers, see Juanita Sundberg, Jessica Dempsey, and Fernanda Rojas Marchini, “Nature–Culture,” in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 2nd ed., vol. 9 (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2020), 315–24; Bruce Braun, “Nature and Culture: On the Career of a False Problem,” in A Companion to Cultural Geography, ed. James S. Duncan, Nuala C. Johnson, and Richard H. Schein (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 151–79.  5    energy history has also shown that foregrounding the materiality of energy produces new insights into the politics, historical dynamics and environmental linkages of energy systems. It also provides a needed corrective to the abstraction, disassociation and disembodiment associated with everyday energy consumption and highlights the importance of transport infrastructure in the evolution of large energy systems.19 Secondly, an envirotechnical perspective helps illuminate the cultural meanings and representations of technology and nature.20 This discursive focus is particularly well-suited for studying dam development in midcentury South America, where hydropower arguably possesses the same political, economic and social significance as does oil in the United States.21 The massive river networks threading the continent have provided development opportunities since electricity was first introduced at the end of the 19th century. Today, thanks largely to these southern grids, Latin America is unrivaled in its dependence on hydroelectricity, which accounts for 44% of power generation and 18% of primary energy demand.22 The large dams and power lines built after WWII might have been invisible to most Latin Americans, but they were present in technological and environmental imaginaries that fit within broader visions of territory, the nation, modernity and progress.23 Analyzing the envirotechnical imaginaries associated with hydro development also shifts our attention to local cases of technological reinvention and adaptation. While not denying the influence of external actors or forces, I hope, in adopting this focus, to challenge the notion of technology and technological innovation as something that happens outside of Latin America and is later introduced as “imported magic,” a call taken up in recent STS scholarship on and from the region.24 As a conceptual approach, my use of envirotechnical analysis builds on the work of historian Thomas P. Hughes, whose pioneering studies of large technological systems remain influential to this day.25 Hughes  19 Christopher F. Jones, “The Materiality of Energy,” Canadian Journal of History 53, no. 3 (2018): 378–94. See also Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil (London: Verso Books, 2011); Jones, Routes of Power; Andrew Needham, Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014); Etienne Benson, “Generating Infrastructural Invisibility: Insulation, Interconnection, and Avian Excrement in the Southern California Power Grid,” Environmental Humanities 6, no. 1 (2015): 103–30. 20 Pritchard, Confluence, 13. 21 Christine Folch, Hydropolitics: The Itaipú Dam, Sovereignty, and the Engineering of Modern South America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019), 7. This is not to say that oil is less significant or relevant in South American history. See, e.g., on Venezuela, Fernando Coronil, The Magical State: Nature, Money, and Modernity in Venezuela (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997). 22 These figures include Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Data as of 2015, based on The World Bank, Electricity production from hydroelectric sources (% of total), retrieved from: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/eg.elc.hyro.zs (accessed 12/25/2020); BP, BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2017, p. 9, retrieved from: https://www.connaissancedesenergies.org/sites/default/files/pdf-actualites/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2017-full-report.pdf (accessed 12/25/2020). 23 Fernando Purcell, “Imaginarios socioculturales de la hidroelectricidad en Sudamérica, 1945-1970,” Atenea, no. 518 (2018): 97–116; Fernando Purcell, “Dams and Hydroelectricity: Circulation of Knowledge and Technological Imaginaries in South America, 1945–1970,” in Itineraries of Expertise: Science, Technology, and the Environment in Latin America’s Long Cold War, ed. Andra B. Chastain and Timothy Lorek (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), 217–36.  24 Eden Medina, Ivan da Costa Marques, and Christina Holmes, Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2014), 2. 25 Thomas P. Hughes, Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983); Thomas P. Hughes, “The Evolution of Large Technological Systems,” in The Social Construction of Technological Systems, ed. Wiebe E. Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes, and Trevor Pinch (1987; repr., Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2012), 45–76. 6    characterized the electrical grid as a socio-technical network comprising not only physical infrastructure, but also economic and political systems, regulatory frameworks and social actors. This important insight expands the conceptualization of a system beyond strictly technical traits like voltage, current and line mileage to include politicians, laws, corporations and consumers, all of which are interrelated and exert mutual influence on one another. However, Hughes deals with nature only obliquely, if at all. In his work, nature is either external to the system, influencing but not interacting with it, or is directly under its control.26 This model is conceptually problematic since it implies that nature is ultimately controllable and, in a similar vein, that specific elements of complex ecological systems can be completely isolated.27 Treating the power grid as an envirotechnical system underscores that its embedded natures (e.g., a dammed river) are also part of larger ecological systems (e.g., the hydrological cycle) that are beyond its control, but which nonetheless influence the system in important ways. In other words, environments and technologies constantly shape one another and the envirotechnical system as a whole.28 An enduring conceptual contribution of the Hughesian approach to studying power grids and other large systems is the idea of “technological momentum.”29 As it expands its physical reach and becomes more deeply enmeshed in society over time, a system can become increasingly self-sustaining and even reach a point of apparent autonomy, akin to a state of inertia. In this way, a small system designed initially by a handful of individuals is transformed into a massive network influencing, and even limiting, the decisions and livelihoods of millions of people – a flexible middle ground, according to Hughes, between deterministic and constructivist interpretations of technological change.30 Technological momentum is, of course, neither irresistible nor irreversible. It may be broken by endogenous factors, such as when a technical component falls behind or out of phase with others parts of the system during expansion (what Hughes calls a “reverse salient”), or by exogenous factors such as war, economic crisis or other historical events of large proportion.31 Adopting an envirotechnical perspective, we might add that energy, a continuous need for all technological systems, is essential to sustaining that momentum, as some historians have argued.32 For hydro-dependent power grids, as in the case of Chile, hydrological and atmospheric cycles and forces inject and withdraw the energy that circulates within the system. In this  26 Hughes defines all components external to a system as its “environment.” The environment in this sense may include both social and ecological components of the system. See Hughes, “Large Technological Systems,” 46–47. 27 One exception might be in a laboratory setting, but such conditions are not replicable at the scale of a large power grid. 28 I develop this definition of envirotechnical system following Pritchard, Confluence, 19–21. 29 Hughes, “Large Technological Systems,” 70–73; Thomas P. Hughes, “Technological Momentum,” in Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994), 101–13.  30 Hughes, “Technological Momentum,” 112. Similar concepts include path dependency and sunk costs. 31 Hughes, “Large Technological Systems,” 73; Hughes, “Technological Momentum,” 108. 32 Edmund Russell et al., “The Nature of Power: Synthesizing the History of Technology and Environmental History,” Technology and Culture 52, no. 2 (2011): 246–59. 7    sense, the constant energy requirements of a power network’s momentum are what bind the technical system to ecological systems beyond its control. Rivers and Power in Chilean Historiography As a study of Chilean history, this thesis attends to three interrelated historiographical themes. The first is the role of energy – specifically electricity – in the environmental, political and economic history of Chile during the 20th century. While a lack of reliable historical data prior to 1950 has hindered earlier studies of Latin American energy history, over the last decade economic historians in South America and Spain have reconstructed and streamlined long-run datasets of primary energy use for 19th and 20th centuries, revealing some striking patterns in the process.33 For example, the coal-to-oil transition, a drawn-out, unilinear process in the industrialized north, happened rather quickly in many Latin American nations, and in others occurred in reverse (an oil-to-coal shift) or even oscillated between the two sources. 34 In the case of electricity, despite relatively early transfers of the technology to most major urban centers at the end of the 1880s, systems in Latin America were generally slow to expand compared to northern cases.35 Unsurprisingly, given the region’s sprawling river networks, many early systems were powered by water. Yet, as María del Mar Rubio and Xavier Tafunell have found, generous endowments of water resources were a necessary but not decisive condition for hydro-electrification.36 Environmental conditions alone do not explain the decision to dam rivers for power.  It is important, in other words, to study the politics and business of power in Chile, an early adopter of hydropower that had become the second largest per-capita electricity consumer in Latin America by 1930.37 The local historiography chronicling this early trajectory and subsequent developments has followed three main currents.38 Economic historians have explored early drivers of electrification and, more generally, have interpreted the reconstructed quantitative primary energy data as proxy evidence for early industrialization within the context of Latin America, in contrast to more pessimistic accounts of the  33 Key works include Maria del Mar Rubio et al., “Energy as an Indicator of Modernization in Latin America, 1890–1925,” The Economic History Review 63, no. 3 (2010): 769–804; Xavier Tafunell, “La revolución eléctrica en América Latina: una reconstrucción cuantitativa del proceso de electrificación hasta 1930,” Revista de Historia Económica 29, no. 3 (2011): 327–59; César Yáñez et al., “El consumo aparente de carbón mineral en América Latina, 1841-2000. Una historia de progreso y frustración,” Revista de Historia Industrial, no. 53 (2013): 25–77; María del Mar Rubio and Xavier Tafunell, “Latin American Hydropower: A Century of Uneven Evolution,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 38 (2014): 323–34. 34 Maria del Mar Rubio and Mauricio Folchi, “Will Small Energy Consumers Be Faster in Transition? Evidence from the Early Shift from Coal to Oil in Latin America,” Energy Policy 50 (2012): 50–61. 35 Tafunell, “La revolución eléctrica.” 36 Rubio and Tafunell, “Latin American Hydropower,” 328–32. 37 It should be noted that coal and some diesel also produced a substantial share of electricity consumed in Chile at this time. Regional figures for per-capita consumption in 1930 are found in Tafunell, “La revolución eléctrica,” 351. Chilean generation data by source are found in Pablo Jaramillo, “Electricidad,” in Geografía económica de Chile, Tomo III, ed. CORFO (Santiago, Chile: Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, 1962), 396.  38 For a survey of the historical literature on electricity, coal and oil in Chile, as well as an innovative analysis of all three sources, see Folchi, Blanco-Wells, and Meier, “Definiciones tecno-políticas.” 8    Chilean experience during the first wave of globalization (1870-1914).39 Corporate histories, in turn, have documented the creation of the first major power companies and their struggles amid the shifting political and economic tides of the 20th century.40 More recently, studies drawing from the municipal archives of Santiago and Valparaíso have illuminated the urban politics of the utility business at the turn of the century, where local concerns overlapped with transnational networks of capital and technology.41 Finally, Chilean historians have studied the political and economic dimensions of the “electricity problem” debates of the 1930s, a direct precursor to the statist tendencies that manifested in the power sector over the following decade.42 At the center of this debate was a group of technocrats and engineers, several of whom would later author the electrification plan, part of a larger state-led industrialization program initiated in the 1940s.43 This study engages with all three of these currents to varying degrees while attempting to delineate and bring into focus the ecological ideas and forces that shaped them. It does so by focusing on the role of rivers as sources of energy and inspiration for electrical systems, for the engineers who designed and built those systems, and for the actors and institutions that they enveloped. While there is a growing body of literature on electrification in Chile, the local river historiography is less clearly defined. Studies of specific rivers or with rivers as their primary object of analysis are rare, and the few that do exist tend to focus on urban cases – usually in Santiago – but otherwise lack a common set of questions, methods and  39 César Yáñez, “El arranque del sector eléctrico chileno: un enfoque desde las empresas de generación, 1897-1931,” in Empresas y empresarios en la historia de Chile: 1810-1930, ed. Manuel Llorca-Jaña and Diego Barría Traverso (Santiago, Chile: Editorial Universitaria, 2017), 175–92; César Yáñez and José Jofré, “Modernización económica y consumo energético en Chile, 1844-1930,” Historia 396 1, no. 1 (2016): 127–66. 40 ENDESA, 50 años; Silvia Castillo Ibáñez, Historia de Chilectra 1898-1994 (Santiago, Chile: Chilectra, Dirección de Planificación, 1996); Ricardo Nazer Ahumada, Juan Ricardo Couyoumdjian, and Pablo Camus Gayan, CGE: cien años de energía en Chile, 1905-2005 (Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile, 2005); Ricardo Nazer Ahumada and Juan Ricardo Couyoumdjian, 110 años de energía para Magallanes: historia de la Empresa Eléctrica de Magallanes S.A. 1897-2007 (Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile, 2009). See also Adolfo Ibáñez Santa María, “Los particulares y el Estado en el desarrollo de la electricidad en Chile,” Revista de la Universidad de México, no. 549 (1996): 50–54. 41 Marion Steiner, “‘El fantasma de la fuerza motriz del agua’: Emil Rathenau y sus redes eléctricas en Chile y España,” Labor e Engenho 11, no. 4 (2017): 446–76; Marion Steiner, “Entre proyectos locales y redes globales de poder: los inicios de la electrificación en Valparaíso, Chile,” in La electricidad y la transformación de la vida urbana y social (V Simposio Internacional de la Historia de la Electrificación, Barcelona: Universidad de Barcelona/Geocrítica, 2019), 193–220. Steiner’s excellent studies come from a larger dissertation published in German, which includes a summary in Spanish. Marion Steiner, “Die chilenische Steckdose. Kleine Weltgeschichte der deutschen Elektrifizierung von Valparaíso und Santiago, 1880-1920” (PhD dissertation, Weimar, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Fakultät Architektur und Urbanistik, 2019). See also Samuel J. Martland, “Constructing Valparaíso: Infrastructure and the Politics of Progress in Chile’s Port, 1842–1918” (PhD dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003), chap. 3; Peter Hertner, “Foreign Direct Investment in Chile and Local Public Utilities: Electric Tramways and the First Electrical Power Plants in Santiago de Chile and Valparaíso Between 1898 and 1920,” in Chile y América en su Historia Económica, ed. César Yáñez (Valparaíso, Chile: Asociación Chilena de Historia Económica, 2013), 89–100. 42Adolfo Ibáñez Santa María, “Los ingenieros, el estado y la política en Chile: del Ministerio de Fomento a la Corporación de Fomento, 1927-1939,” Historia 18 (1983): 45–102; Rafael Sagredo Baeza, “Electricidad para el desarrollo,” in Historia de la ingeniería en Chile, ed. Sergio Villalobos (Santiago, Chile: Hachette, 1990), 339–58; César Yáñez, “La intervención del estado en el sector eléctrico chileno: los inicios de la empresa pública monopólica,” in Empresas y empresarios en la historia de Chile: 1930-2015, ed. Manuel Llorca-Jaña and Diego Barría Traverso (Santiago, Chile: Editorial Universitaria, 2017), 109–32; José Soto Vejar and Carlos Sanhueza Cerda, “El problema eléctrico chileno. Un estudio de caso de controversia sociotécnica (1935-1939),” Athenea Digital 20, no. 3 (2020): n.p. 43 Across Latin America, technocrats, or técnicos, participated in a range of development, political and environmental projects during the 20th century. Studies that explore this phenomenon include Patricio Silva, In the Name of Reason: Technocrats and Politics in Chile (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008); Mark Carey, In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Eve E. Buckley, Technocrats and the Politics of Drought and Development in Twentieth-Century Brazil (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2017); Wolfe, Watering the Revolution. 9    concepts that would demarcate a coherent body of literature.44 Only recently have historians turned their attention to the historical currents linking rivers to the extractivist model of development that has endured in Chile since the 19th century.45 Following this work, which explores cases in the early 20th century, this study centers on the harnessing of rivers for Chile’s midcentury experiment with state-led industrial development, which marked a notable change in the scale and scope of hydro-electrification. The second theme addresses the deeper historical processes in the energy sector that predate and overlap with the neoliberal order that the military junta, under the influence of a cadre of U.S.-educated Chilean economists known as the Chicago Boys, imposed on the country after seizing power in 1973. My aim is not to diminish the significance of that political economic regime, one of the many legacies of a brutal 17-year dictatorship that casts a long shadow over politics, society and environment in Chile.46 Indeed, the liberalization and privatization of the power market in the 1970s and 1980s marked a radical departure from the statist model in place since the 1940s. The scholarship on energy and the environment in Chile has paid particular attention to the post-1973 economic and legal framework, which set the stage for a series of dam conflicts since the 1990s that have pitted transnational corporations against indigenous communities, farmers, environmental NGOs and other actors in southern Chile.47 Studying conflicts between power companies and irrigators, for example, the geographer Carl Bauer has argued that the regulatory and institutional arrangements in the water and power markets tend to favor electricity generation over other uses.48  44 Some Santiago-focused studies include Gonzalo Piwonka Figueroa, Las aguas de Santiago de Chile, 1541-1741: tomo I (Santiago, Chile: DIBAM, 1999); Gonzalo Piwonka Figueroa, 100 años de las aguas de Santiago, 1742-1841 (Santiago, Chile: Dirección General de Aguas, 2004); Gonzalo Piwonka F. et al., Mapocho: torrente urbano (Santiago, Chile: Matte Editores, 2008); Simón Castillo Fernández, El río Mapocho y sus riberas: espacio público e intervención urbana en Santiago de Chile (1885-1918) (Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Universidad Alberto Hurtado, 2014). For studies outside of the capital, see Alberto Recart Novión, El Laja: un río creador (Santiago, Chile: Editorial Jerónimo de Vivar, 1971); Valeria Maino Prado, La navegación del Maule: una vía de conexión con el exterior: 1794-1898 (Talca, Chile: Editorial Universidad de Talca, 1996); Francisco Albizú Labbé, “Indígenas de Chile: entre el río, la ficción y la nación,” Babel, no. 19 (2009): 93–120. 45 Thomas Miller Klubock, “The Early History of Water Wars in Chile: Rivers, Ecological Disaster and Multinational Mining Companies,” Environment and History, forthcoming in print, published online July 2019, https://doi.org/10.3197/096734019X15463432087008; Damir Galaz-Mandakovic, “Río, murallas y turbinas. Innovación hidroeléctrica en el cantón El Toco: Tranque Santa Fe y Tranque Sloman,” Revista de Ciencias Sociales 28, no. 43 (2019): 58–85. For a similarly inclined study of irrigation in the 19th century, see Pablo Camus, Enrique Munoz, and Guillermo Elgueda, “Irrigación y organización social en una sociedad en transición al capitalismo: el caso de la Asociación de Canalistas del Maipo en Chile (S.XIX),” Historia Ambiental Latinoamericana y Caribeña 9, no. 2 (2019): 95–121. 46 There is a rich literature on Chile’s “economic miracle” and an ever-growing body of work on the dictatorship and its legacies. For an early critique of the neoliberal model, see Tomás Moulian, Chile actual: anatomía de un mito (Santiago, Chile: LOM Ediciones, 1997). For a more recent study from a variety of perspectives, see Peter Winn, ed., Victims of the Chilean Miracle: Workers and Neoliberalism in the Pinochet Era, 1973-2002 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004). On the ecological costs, see Marcel Claude, Una vez más la miseria: es Chile un país sustentable? (Santiago, Chile: LOM Ediciones, 1997). 47 Some examples include Carl J. Bauer, “Slippery Property Rights: Multiple Water Uses and the Neoliberal Model in Chile, 1981-1995,” Natural Resources Journal 38, no. 1 (1998): 109–55; Hugo Ivan Romero, “Environmental Conflicts and Historical Political Ecology: A Genealogy of the Construction of Dams in Chilean Patagonia” (PhD dissertation, University of Manchester, 2013); Manuel Tironi and Javiera Barandiaran, “Neoliberalism as Political Technology: Expertise, Energy, and Democracy in Chile,” in Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America, ed. Eden Medina, Ivan da Costa Marques, and Christina Holmes (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2014), 305–29; Eduardo Silva, “Patagonia, without Dams! Lessons of a David vs. Goliath Campaign,” The Extractive Industries and Society 3, no. 4 (2016): 947–57; Javiera Barandiarán, Science and Environment in Chile: The Politics of Expert Advice in a Neoliberal Democracy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018), chap. 6; Sarah Kelly, “Megawatts Mask Impacts: Small Hydropower and Knowledge Politics in the Puelwillimapu, Southern Chile,” Energy Research & Social Science 54 (2019): 224–35. 48 Carl J. Bauer, “Dams and Markets: Rivers and Electric Power in Chile,” Natural Resources Journal 49, no. 3/4 (2009): 583–651. See also Manuel Prieto and Carl J. Bauer, “Hydroelectric Power Generation in Chile: An Institutional Critique of the Neutrality of Market Mechanisms,” Water International 37, no. 2 (2012): 131–46. 10    Yet as recent historical scholarship has shown, Latin America’s neoliberal turn, which began in Chile during the 1970s and spread to the rest of the region over the following decades, was neither a clean break from the preceding statist model, nor a case of simply substituting one set of ideas for another. In a recent book focusing on Colombia and the United States, Amy Offner has shown how elements of Latin American developmental and welfare states were repurposed and redeployed in programs that ultimately dismantled the earlier projects that birthed them.49 In Chile, Thomas Klubock has demonstrated that the forestry boom under Pinochet, heralded as one of the regime’s free-market successes, was made possible by previous decades of state-directed policies and development. Similarly, ongoing land disputes in the forestry sector are really the latest episode in a nearly 150-year conflict between private landholders and Mapuche and non-Mapuche peasant communities in southern Chile.50 Participants in these earlier conflicts, of course, did not understand them in the exact same terms and language of the environmentalist movement, which did not take root in Chile until the 1990s. But they nonetheless expressed competing visions of how to use, value and modify the environment. As a means of moving beyond the neoliberal framing of environmental conflicts in Chile, the historian Mauricio Folchi has proposed the term conflictos de contenido ambiental (which translates, inelegantly, to “conflicts with environmental content”) to encompass the broad range of actors and values that have shaped ecological conflicts extending back to the colonial period.51 This study explores the continuities and connections threaded throughout the history of Chilean hydropower development before and after the 1973 military coup – be they environmental, technological, social, political or economic. Many of the hydroelectric dams in the recent conflicts were first identified by ENDESA in the 1940s, or by earlier actors. Similarly, the frameworks governing the construction and operation of recent projects had to accommodate a large infrastructure system conceived nearly half a century ago. The engineers designing and building the earliest power stations also encountered competing visions for energy development and negotiated with other water users who sought to protect their access to rivers slated for development; in other words, “conflicts with environmental content” occurred on Chilean rivers as well.52 Since the environmental values of the past do not mirror those of the present, the historical record of early dam conflicts sometimes requires judicious interpretation and contextualization. The sources consulted for this study also contain a limited range of voices and perspectives, with a significant bias toward those of engineers (all of whom are men). On this point, it bears mentioning that  49 Amy C. Offner, Sorting Out the Mixed Economy: The Rise and Fall of Welfare and Developmental States in the Americas (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019). 50 Thomas Miller Klubock, La Frontera: Forests and Ecological Conflict in Chile’s Frontier Territory (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014). 51 Mauricio Folchi D., “Conflictos de contenido ambiental y ecologismo de los pobres: no siempre pobres, ni siempre ecologistas,” Ecología Política, no. 22 (2001): 79–100. 52 See, e.g., Klubock, “The Early History of Water Wars in Chile.” 11    the main projects examined in this study were built in areas whose original inhabitants had been expelled through a colonial process of land usurpation that, in some cases, had occurred just decades before the first engineers arrived on the scene. In many ways, that process has not ended. Thus, while the areas of study were technically “empty” in the periods I examine, traces of that colonial history remained. Given the sources consulted and the focus of the present study, I cannot explore this history in great detail (which, in any case, merits a study of its own), but I do try to call attention to these colonial legacies when possible. The final theme I explore is the role of dams, power lines and rivers in the formation and consolidation of the modern Chilean state and territory. Political geographers have called attention to the fluidity and historically contingent nature of the territorial state, as well as the connections between territoriality and the centralization of state power.53 In Chile, Santiago and its surroundings were a center of economic, administrative and political power for much of the colonial period; indeed, the territorial control of the “Kingdom of Chile” did not extend far beyond this heartland region until after independence. During the 19th century, the newly formed republic expanded its southern and northern borders through military conquest and surveyed and inventoried the resources within its new boundaries, bringing environments and peoples of the peripheries into the orbit of Santiago and re-entrenching and expanding the centralist structure inherited from the colonial era.54 Chilean historians have characterized this process of territorialization as the emergence of a vertical north-south geography, defined by the long coastline to the west, the imposing Andes mountains to the east, and Santiago at its heart. This north-south configuration mapped over a heterogeneous collection of isolated economic and social units organized along the east-west axes of river basins – what the historical geographer Andrés Núñez has called el país de las cuencas (the country of basins).55 As Núñez argues, the redrawing of el país de las cuencas as a homogenous vertical unit was a multifaceted process that produced space both discursively and materially – through, for instance, the exploration and settlement of new territories, the inventory of natural resources and the writing of a  53 John Agnew, “The Territorial Trap: The Geographical Assumptions of International Relations Theory,” Review of International Political Economy 1, no. 1 (1994): 53–80; Marcelo Escolar, “Exploration, Cartography and the Modernization of State Power,” in State/Space, ed. Neil Brenner et al. (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 27–52. 54 Harold Blakemore, “Chile,” in Latin America: Geographical Perspectives, ed. Harold Blakemore and Clifford T. Smith, 2nd ed. (London: Methuen, 1983), 457–532. 55 Andrés Núñez, “Definiendo una geografía para la nación: La resignificación territorial de Chile, Siglos XVIII-XIX,” in Imaginar, organizar y controlar el territorio. Una visión geográfica de la construcción del estado-nación, ed. Quim Bonastra and Gerard Jori (Barcelona: Icaria, 2013), 167–95. See also Rafael Sagredo Baeza, “Chile, del orden natural al autoritarismo republicano,” Revista de Geografía Norte Grande, no. 36 (2006): 5–30. In the southern territories of the Mapuche, unconquered until the mid-1800s, the Andean mountains were also a highly porous border, across which people and goods flowed freely until the arrival of the Chilean state. For a complementary argument to el país de las cuencas, applied to the pre-colonial and colonial periods, see José Bengoa, Historia de los antiguos mapuches del Sur: desde antes de la llegada de los españoles hasta las paces de Quilín (Santiago, Chile: Catalonia, 2003). Bengoa, an ethnohistorian, speculates that prior to the first European colonization of Chile, the Mapuche lived in a “riparian society” (sociedad ribereña) connected by river corridors, which provided the fastest means of transport. The adoption of horses after the arrival of the Spaniards changed this spatial pattern of mobility, transforming rivers into markers of separation rather than connection. 12    national history.56 Large infrastructural networks, sponsored and often built by the state, contributed to this territorial reorientation and consolidation. The central railroad built in the 19th century and public highways in the early 20th established the first overland connections between Santiago and the rest of the country, strengthening the capital’s geographical scope of influence and creating centers of commerce in the outlying regions.57 The construction of southern telegraph networks in the 19th century also provided logistical support to the military campaigns in Mapuche territories and later established a line of communication and control over civilians occupying the conquered lands.58 Electrification was a continuation of this process of nation-building and territorialization, connecting Santiago to the rest of Chile in a large envirotechnical system that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century. The national grid expanded electricity access in the peripheries while also allowing the energy coursing through southern rivers to flow north to the capital. Electrification also produced marginal spaces beyond the grid that interacted with the center in unexpected ways, as we will see in a subsequent chapter. The next three chapters are loosely organized along a running theme – the creation, execution and legacy of the national electrification plan. The central time period for these events is between 1940 and the mid-1980s, but at times it will be necessary to dip further into the past or address events closer to the present. Chapter 2 charts the creation of the plan by a group of engineers, some of whom would later occupy key positions in the state bureaucracy and national power company. It explores how those engineers mobilized ideas about nature and technology to produce territorial imaginaries that justified the plan. Chapter 3 follows the execution of the plan on the Laja River in southern Chile and the early seeds of a multiple-use water conflict in the basin. It also traces how a river and lake were transformed into a storage battery, plugged first into a nearby industrial hub and later into the central power system. Chapter 4 deals with a legacy of the plan, an unrealized mega-project in the Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia that was later revived in the 2000s, producing a heated environmental conflict. The chapter explores the earlier iterations of the project, dating to the 1940s, and their evolution from an inward-looking industrial development scheme to an export-oriented project in the 1970s. Throughout these chapters, I will take up the questions and themes outlined in this introduction to build toward a series of arguments about the history of electricity and hydropower in Chile. First, electrification was a central component of the mid-century inward turn of the Chilean state and the development policies it enacted during that period. Industrialization attempted to transform and replace not only the productive  56 Núñez, “Definiendo una geografía,” 180–81. 57 John Harrah Whaley Jr, “Transportation in Chile’s Bío Bío Region, 1850-1915” (PhD dissertation, Indiana University, 1974); Rodrigo Booth, “Automóviles y carreteras. Movilidad, modernización y transformación del territorio en Chile, 1913-1931” (Tesis de doctorado en arquitectura y estudios urbanos, Santiago, Chile, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2009). 58 Samuel J. Martland, “Standardizing the State While Integrating the Frontier: The Chilean Telegraph System in the Araucanía, 1870–1900,” History and Technology 30, no. 4 (2014): 283–308. 13    structures of the economy, but also the energy system underlying them – transitioning from a heterogeneous collection of local electrical networks to a national grid powered by hydroelectric stations throughout the territory. Second, the technical process of electrification was also an attempt to extend human control over nature, one which was ultimately unsuccessful. Those behind the electrification plan sought to subdue Chile’s rivers to different aims but always toward the larger project of building a national grid. The impressive feat of capturing nature within a massive machine, comprised of turbines and power lines, created a fleeting illusion of control, eventually undermined by the environmental linkages and ecological systems that lay beyond the grasp of the engineers and their technical solutions. Similarly, the rivers, topography and climate of Chile shaped the very plans and interventions that sought to subdue them, reflecting the limits of technology’s capacity to control nature. Third, studying the history of electrification in Chile exposes longer-term historical connections bridging the mid-19th century heyday of liberalism and export-led growth to the neoliberal era inaugurated at gunpoint in the final decades of the 20th century. The multi-decade experiment with state-led development, which produced the electrification plan, falls between these two periods in Chilean history, clearly bounded off in political economic terms. From another perspective, however, hydro-electrification carried the nation-building processes of the earlier century into the mid-20th century, while also providing the energy, technologies and plans that allowed Chile to continue damming rivers for power during and after the military regime, and into the present century. Methods and Sources The bulk of the research for this thesis occurred in archives and libraries in Santiago. A major methodological challenge was the absence of a comprehensive archive for a key actor in this story, ENDESA (now controlled by the Italian multinational energy company Enel). Access to internal records from the company’s many decades as a state enterprise has become increasingly difficult since its privatization in the late 1980s, and it is unclear if the corporate archive from that period still exists. The ENDESA fonds in the official state archives contain a limited set of materials, none of which are directly relevant to this study. As a result, I had to work around the margins of a considerable empirical void – for example, by searching in the fonds of ministries and state agencies that interacted with ENDESA and by tracking down unpublished company reports dispersed among various repositories. These included collections at the National Library and the University of Chile, as well as smaller libraries at CORFO and other state agencies.59 I also reviewed the ENDESA folders in the press clippings archive at the National Library of Congress, as well as ENDESA’s monthly newsletter, available at a small public library in Enel’s corporate headquarters (which also has a useful collection of technical reports). ENDESA  59 A full accounting of the sources is found in the Bibliography. 14    employees and managers often published articles in engineering trade journals, while the professional association of ENDESA engineers printed several collections of papers from lecture series organized by its members. Using historical maps and geospatial data gleaned from primary sources, I also developed a historical geographical information system (HGIS) to trace the development of the central power grid over time. Such an endeavor inevitably runs into problems with errors, inconsistencies and gaps in the historical sources consulted. Nonetheless, the HGIS proved especially useful while writing the thesis, as it provided an interactive visual representation that complemented the textual sources from the archives. Some of the maps produced for this study were also derived, in part, from the HGIS data. Due to time constraints and my inability to access additional data, I was unable to incorporate into the final draft my own maps and analysis developed using GIS software. However, I have included in the appendix a link to a webpage which displays some of the maps created using these tools.                15               Figure 1 – Power Generation, 1960-1975 16      Figure 2 – Chile & the Electrical Regions The electrification plan’s electrical regions, circa 1975. The spatial distribution of hydro resources influenced the boundaries, some of which shifted after publication in 1943. Data from Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas, Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile, and JAXA’s ALOS Science Program. Regional boundaries were approximated using ENDESA maps from the 1970s. Map by Eric Leinberger 17    Ch. 2 – The Environmental Origins of El Plan Just before midnight on January 24, 1939, a massive earthquake rocked Chile. The quake, the most destructive in the modern history of the country, killed between 28,000 and 30,000 people and left many more homeless. The cities of Chillán and Concepción were hardest hit, but the full disaster area encompassed some 45,000 square-kilometers in the Central Valley, which lies between the Coastal and the Andes mountain ranges.1 In addition to its human toll, the earthquake obstructed roads and railways, downed bridges, and damaged or destroyed the infrastructure of the local manufacturing and agricultural sectors. The disaster occurred just one month into the administration of Pedro Aguirre Cerda of the Popular Front, an alliance of the reformist middle-class Radical Party and the Socialist and Communist parties. The Popular Front had campaigned on a platform of state intervention to revitalize the national economy, still recovering from effects of the Great Depression. Aguirre Cerda had won the October election by a slim margin and now faced a Congress under the control of opposition parties with ties to the aristocratic elite. The opposition was planning to stonewall the Popular Front’s interventionist initiatives, as they had with previous administrations in the 1920s. Parliamentary obstructionism then had fractured the governing alliance and destabilized the government, leading to a series of military coups. The Chillán earthquake, however, presented the Popular Front with a golden opportunity. Exploiting the prevailing mood of national solidarity and sympathy for the quake’s victims, the Aguirre Cerda administration pressured opposition parties into accepting an emergency aid bill that also created a national development corporation with a longer-term vision. The corporation, known as CORFO, was an early variant of the state-led approach to development that many Latin American governments adopted in the mid-20th century after the repeated frustrations and failures of an export-led growth model that had predominated since independence.2 CORFO was given a broad mandate that included stimulating the agricultural and manufacturing sectors; creating new industries, in particular a steelworks; and shoring up the energy supply to power the new, advanced industrial economy and improve living standards for Chileans. Among its first major projects, CORFO approved an electrification plan in 1943 to exploit Chile’s rivers for power and build a national grid. While the earthquake emboldened proponents of state-led industrialization, the ideas behind CORFO grew out of a political transformation that began in the 1920s under the military dictatorship of Gen. Carlos Ibáñez del Campo (1927-31), who espoused a model of governance known as el estado moderno  1 M. Astroza, A. Moya, and S. Sanhueza, “Estudio comparativo de los efectos de los terremotos de Chillán de 1939 y de Talca de 1928” (Trabajo presentado en VIII Jornadas Chilenas de Sismología e Ingeniería Antisísmica, Valparaíso, Chile, 2002).  2 Luis Bértola and José Antonio Ocampo, The Economic Development of Latin America since Independence, 1st ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), chap. 4. 18    (the modern state).3 This new state took a more active role in economic and social matters through increased public spending and a professionalized bureaucracy staffed heavily by engineers, many of whom would later have a hand in creating CORFO. Historians have characterized this extended political transformation as the emergence of a technocratic, apolitical style of public administration; as the political ascendancy of a middle class wary of both elite indifference to social unrest and the radicalization of the working classes; and as a continuation of 19th century initiatives to promote local industry and curtail foreign economic influence in Chile.4 Cesár Yáñez, for instance, has argued that the 1943 electrification plan continued the state’s foray into economic sectors that favored the formation of natural monopolies, a tradition he dates to the creation of a state railroad in the 19th century.5  But what of Chile’s landscape and rivers, which were also present from the earliest discussion of electrification and industrialization at the turn of the century? Early boosters of electricity saw rivers as potential reserves of industrial wealth, while the state engineers at CORFO and, later, ENDESA extended their technocratic ideals of rational and efficient administration to hydrological systems, which they sought to harness to large networks integrating nature, technology and society. These technocratic and technological imaginaries of nature crystalized in the 1943 plan, which separated Chile into seven electrical regions based on waterpower potential and seasonal flow regimes, as well as local demand profiles. The government then built separate systems in each region with an eye toward their eventual interconnection in a national grid that would (in theory) rationally and harmoniously exploit local energy resources. This chapter explores the environmental contours of the 1943 electrification plan – or El Plan, as it was known internally at ENDESA – and their connections to territorial and developmentalist imaginaries at the start of Chile’s multi-decade experiment with state-led industrialization, or inward-looking development.6 It begins by sketching out early conceptualizations of national electrification and the local development of river research and hydrological knowledge around the turn of the century. It then  3 Ibáñez Santa María, “Los ingenieros.” 4 On the role of technocrats, see Ibáñez Santa María; Adolfo Ibáñez Santa María, Herido en el ala: estado, oligarquías y subdesarrollo, Chile 1924-1960 (Santiago, Chile: Editorial Biblioteca Americana, 2003); Silva, In the Name of Reason. On middle class reformism, see Patrick Barr-Melej, Reforming Chile: Cultural Politics, Nationalism, and the Rise of the Middle Class (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001). On the 19th century roots of 20th century developmentalism in Chile, see Fernando Duque, “The Chilean National Electric Enterprise (ENDESA): A Treatise on the Behavior of a Public Corporation in a Transitional Society” (PhD dissertation, Los Angeles, University of California, Los Angeles, 1978), 116–17; Patricio Silva, “The Chilean Developmental State: Political Balance, Economic Accommodation, and Technocratic Insulation, 1924–1973,” in State and Nation Making in Latin America and Spain: The Rise and Fall of the Developmental State, ed. Augustin E. Ferraro and Miguel Angel Centeno (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 284–313. 5 Yáñez, “La intervención del estado.” 6 The conventional periodization for state-led industrialization is from the Popular Front’s victory in the presidential elections of 1938 to the military coup that toppled the presidency of Salvador Allende in 1973. In practice, the model was not uniformly embraced and was interpreted differently by governments over the intervening period. See Gabriel Salazar and Julio Pinto, Historia contemporánea de Chile III. La economía: mercados, empresarios y trabajadores (Santiago, Chile: LOM Ediciones, 2002), 33–47. This period is also characterized as the era of import substitution industrialization (ISI) or inward-looking development (desarrollo hacia adentro). Following recent work by economic historians, I favor the term “state-led industrialization” since it is generally a more accurate description of the policies and ideologies from this period. However, I sometimes use “inward-looking development” when it serves to emphasize a specific point. See Bértola and Ocampo, The Economic Development of Latin America since Independence, 138. 19    examines the convergence of these separate threads in the “electricity problem” debates of the mid-1930s and the creation of the electrification plan in the early 1940s. The analysis centers on ideas and debates and the contexts in which they unfolded, drawing mostly on published primary documents and secondary sources. The consequences of these discussions are taken up in subsequent chapters, which explore the execution, challenges and legacies of the electrification plan.  As a territorial project, the electrification plan attempted to produce an internally cohesive space, following on the heels of infrastructure projects that forged physical and discursive links among peoples, places and environments in the nation-state that emerged in the aftermath of the 19th century independence wars.7 Ultimately, the plan created a north-south network of rivers, power plants, transmission lines, factories and consumers representing some 90% of the population. The plan’s use of territorial units – the seven regions – to organize and guide its execution paralleled attempts by CORFO and other state agencies to devise official and extra-official administrative jurisdictions to facilitate economic planning and development.8 The electrical regions did not carry much currency outside of ENDESA. They faded gradually into irrelevance as the regional systems interconnected in the 1960s and 1970s and then, definitively, following the sector’s privatization and restructuring in the 1980s. Nor did the boundaries of the electrical regions remain fixed over time; ENDESA’s planners adjusted them in subsequent decades to reflect the expanding scope of the grid, with the most substantial changes occurring in the north.9 Nonetheless, the electrical regions provide a window into the environmental origins of the plan, whose authors created a riparian territorial imaginary to justify and guide the mobilization of Chile’s water resources for industrial development. An early project of Chile’s mid-century developmentalist state, the electrification plan was inward-looking and grew out of local experiences and history, but its authors also took inspiration from foreign ideas and models that influenced, among other things, their basin-based approach to electrification.10 This approach reflected engineering ideas and ideals of efficiency and rational management, colored by local concerns with foreign control over Chile’s natural resources. It also reflected the belief, common among engineers and other proponents of industrialization, that expanding human control over nature would reshape society and usher in a new modernity, one which was to flow from Chile’s rivers. As one  7 Núñez, “Definiendo una geografía.” See also Andrés Núñez, “La invención del territorio,” Patrimonio Cultural 33, no. 9 (2004): 22–23. 8 On CORFO’s territorial units, see Pablo Osses McIntyre and Andrés Núñez González, “La Geografía económica de Chile: el conocimiento de los recursos naturales como guía del desarrollo de Chile,” in Geografía económica de Chile, Tomo I, edited by CORFO (1950; repr., Santiago, Chile: Cámara Chilena de la Construcción, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Biblioteca Nacional de Chile, 2013), xiii–xlv. For a history of Chile’s territorial organization, see Andrés Estefane, “Estado y ordenamiento territorial en Chile, 1810-2016,” in Historia política de Chile, 1810-2010: Tomo 2, Estado y sociedad, ed. Iván Jaksic and Francisca Rengifo (Santiago, Chile: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2018).  9 Notably, the border separating regions 1 and 2 gradually moves some 400 kilometers to the north on the maps produced by ENDESA over the 1960s and 1970s, seemingly a result of the interconnection of small northern systems with the central grid. While this process is interesting in its own right, addressing it is beyond the scope of this chapter. 10 On the origins of state developmentalism in Chile, see Silva, “The Chilean Developmental State.” 20    engineer put it in 1941: “A universal transformation in the life of man will come about through the progressive dominion of reason over nature.”11 Early Visions and Early Failures The first hydroelectric station in Chile, the 430 kW Chivilingo plant, was completed in 1897 at the Lota coal mine on the Gulf of Arauco, near Concepción. One of the first of its kind in South America, Chivilingo illuminated the mine shaft, powered the carts bringing coal to the surface and provided tenuous lighting at the workers encampment and in the home of the mine’s owners, the wealthy Cousiño-Goyenechea family.12 Although Chivilingo was modest in size, the latent potential of Chile’s water resources was already apparent, at least to some. In an article published as Chivilingo was coming online, the mine’s head engineer, Guillermo Raby, claimed an “inexhaustible power” was stored in the Andes, musing that waterpower might one day illuminate Chilean cities: “Undoubtedly, hydraulic power, combined with electricity, will have a great future in the country, the day that its inhabitants and its government give it the attention it deserves and cease occupying themselves solely with politics and personal ambitions, the sort of affairs which serve only to pervert and corrupt.”13 Raby’s remarks reflected a growing frustration among a small group of electrification boosters in fin-de-siècle Chile. Agents of foreign equipment manufacturers arrived in Chile not long after the first networks appeared in North America and Europe, installing a prototype generator and lighting system in downtown Santiago by 1883. Yet despite a relatively early start, local networks were slow to emerge, a pattern that repeated throughout much of Latin America.14 The first public service network in Chile, tied to an urban tramway concern in Santiago, did not come online until 1900. Early data on the power sector are unreliable, but current best estimates put total installed capacity at 1,600 kW by the turn of the century, the majority located in the capital.15 Another municipal network followed in 1904 in the nearby port of Valparaíso, but outside of these urban centers development remained minimal and precarious until later in the decade. Chivilingo notwithstanding, large investments in the mining sector, which produced enclaves of electrification in hinterland regions, did not materialize until the 1910s.16 In the eyes of its boosters in the 1890s, electrification thus represented a form of modernity and prosperity that had yet to arrive in Chile, and they worried about falling behind. They tended to attribute the slow  11 Ramón Salas Edwards, extract of a 1941 speech reprinted in “El premio ‘Ramón Salas Edwards’: Honrosa distinción a siete pioneros de la electrificación nacional de Chile,” Revista Chilena de Ingeniería, No. 336, September 1968.  12 Yáñez, “El arranque del sector eléctrico chileno.” 13 Guillermo E. Raby, “Empresa de trasmisión de fuerza de Chivilingo,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile 82 (1897): 251. Also quoted in Sagredo Baeza, “Electricidad,” 339. 14 Tafunell, “La revolución eléctrica.” 15Yáñez, “El arranque del sector eléctrico chileno,” 193. 16 This pattern of urban and mining enclave electrification fits into broader global trends in early power development. William J. Hausman, Peter Hertner, and Mira Wilkins, Global Electrification: Multinational Enterprise and International Finance in the History of Light and Power, 1878-2007 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), chap. 3. 21    adoption of electricity to internal factors, directing most of their criticism at fellow Chileans and private operators of competing technologies. In 1896, Arturo Salazar and a colleague, an engineering professor at the University of Chile, lamented that Santiago’s electrical infrastructure had failed to grow in the same fashion as the metropolitan networks in New York and Milan. In Chile, by contrast, there were only “memories of industrial failure,” which they attributed to the public’s reluctance to accept new technology.17 A contemporary, Enrique Vergara Montt, complained of widespread “economic skepticism” toward electricity that was causing Chile to delay exploring and developing its waterpower resources.18 Salazar and Vergara Montt produced some of the earliest local economic and technical studies promoting electrification. In an 1896 monograph, for instance, Salazar quantified the cost of electricity to demonstrate its commercial viability vis-a-vis manufactured gas, the competing source for city lighting. Private gas utilities and horsecar trolley companies in Valparaíso and Santiago initially resisted the new technology, which threatened their monopolies over the urban lighting and transport markets.19 Salazar, who managed the main Valparaíso gas utility before moving to Santiago in 1896, accused his former employers and other skeptics of delivering “impressionistic” critiques divorced from empirical fact and of cherry-picking cases of failed electrical enterprises to dismiss the new technology.20 A year prior, Vergara Montt presented a long study of the mechanical and economic dimensions of electricity at the Institute of Chilean Engineers in Santiago, drawing mainly from foreign cases of electrified trolleys and train systems. He accused promoters of coal – the fuel of the first industrial revolution – of being “blind” to the advantages of waterpower. Whereas coal extraction entailed human toil and sacrifice, as the mines in southern Chile demonstrated quite clearly, exploiting water for power was simply “placing nature in the service of man.”21 An inventor with wide-ranging interests in science and technology, Salazar is the most well-known early proponent of electrification, at least among Chilean engineers. His initial study comparing electricity and gas prices seems to have derived from a preoccupation with hygiene, water sanitation and air quality in the urban spaces of Valparaíso – common concerns for reformers of the era – but subsequent works explored the potential of electricity as a medium for development. Former students portrayed Salazar as a misunderstood visionary, a lone voice amid a sea of indifference.22 Vergara Montt, although lesser known  17 Arturo E. Salazar and Karlos Newman, Kosto komparatibo en Chile del gas i de la elektrizidad komo sistemas de distribuzion de enerjía (Santiago, Chile: Imprenta Moderna, 1896), 31. 18 Enrique Vergara Montt, “Valor mecánico i económico de la electricidad en los usos i necesidades de la industria,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 57 (1895): 191–285. 19 Ricardo Nazer Ahumada and Gerardo Martínez R., GASCO 1856-1996: historia de la Compañía de Consumidores de Gas de Santiago S.A. (Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile, 1996), 156–73; Martland, “Constructing Valparaíso,” chap. 3. 20 Salazar and Newman, Kosto komparatibo, 69–70. 21 Vergara Montt, “Valor mecánico,” 283. 22 E.g., Reinaldo Harnecker, “Discurso académico de incorporación del profesor ingeniero don Reinaldo Harnecker,” in Incorporación como miembro académico del profesor ingeniero don Reinaldo Harnecker von Kreschmann, decano de la facultad (Santiago, Chile: Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad de Chile, 1952), 6–7. 22    (he died in 1906), was no less spirited in his boosterism. His interest in electrification appears to have begun with his involvement in an attempt by a group of local elites in the capital to generate support and funding for an electrified tramway line powered by water from the Maipo River in 1893.23 That year, he told colleagues at the Institute of Engineers in Santiago that Chile was destined to reap tremendous benefits from the abundant waterpower afforded by its unique landscape, quoting an unnamed British engineer who, while visiting the country, had remarked: “Here is a country where gold is thrown into the sea.”24  Given the initially slow pace of electrification in Chile, it is easy to accept the portrayal of Salazar’s boosterism as a fool’s errand. But while that might have been true at the national level, by the 1890s the municipal governments in Valparaíso and Santiago were soliciting bids for power and traction projects, just as Salazar and Vergara Montt were publishing their first treatises on electrification; indeed, Vergara Montt’s boosterism stemmed from one of those very projects. For city officials, the main interlocutors with prospective utility investors at the time, electricity was yet another modern amenity needed to make clean, orderly metropolises of the rapidly expanding capital and port. Electrification also aligned with other political goals. In Valparaíso, for example, officials saw it as a means of breaking the monopolies of the gas and horse trolley companies, which had developed an antagonistic relationship with the municipal government.25 Authorities in both cities also mandated that bidders use waterpower over other sources, apparently seeking to emulate electrification in European countries with mountain streams. In Santiago, authorities even threatened to revoke the contract when the winning consortium of German capitalists, which specialized in coal power, seemed to renege on a promise to build a hydroelectric station.26 Although his writings on electrification began with urban concerns – a typical focus in the early years of electrification – Salazar would eventually adopt a broader national perspective. For this reason, he is often credited as the “forefather” of the national grid that now spans most of Chile. His key contribution was the idea of an electrical “backbone” or “nerve,” a north-south transmission line running parallel to the central railroad line, fed by hydro plants in the mountains and thermoelectric stations on the coast. The central nerve concept became the paradigmatic model of national electrification among Chilean engineers in the early 20th century.27 Salazar imparted his views to an entire generation of electrical engineers at the University of Chile, several of whom would make key contributions to the 1943 electrification plan and  23 See Enrique Vergara Montt, “Ferrocarril eléctrico,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 28 (1893): 261–307. The principal backer of the project, Santiago Ossa, would eventually partner with the German investors who built Santiago’s first public lighting and power system. 24 For Vergara Montt’s remarks, see the September 30 session minutes in “Actas de las sesiones del Instituto,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile 33 (1893): 588–607. 25 Martland, “Constructing Valparaíso,” 184–85. 26 Steiner, “El fantasma de la fuerza motriz del agua,” 454. 27 Former students credited Salazar with developing the “electrical nerve” (nervio eléctrico) concept while teaching at the University of Chile. Harnecker, “Discurso académico”; Humberto Jorquera G., “Don Arturo E. Salazar V., profesor e ingeniero,” Anales de la Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas 13 (1956): 3–7. 23    occupied key positions at ENDESA (including his son, Renato E. Salazar, who appeared in the previous chapter). When the state power company completed its largest hydro plant to date in the 1950s, executives erected a bust of Salazar (who died in 1943) near the powerhouse to commemorate his contributions to national electrification. Although the term “central nerve” does not yet appear (see footnote 27), Salazar’s published work on electrification from the 1890s includes many conceptual seeds for the approaches to power development promoted by Chilean engineers in subsequent decades. In 1898, for example, Salazar described the regional development potential of electricity. He predicted that the Aconcagua River Valley, a fertile agricultural and mining region north of Santiago, could become an industrial hub if provisioned with cheap energy from a proposed 50,000 HP plant in the river’s lower basin. Sites with similar potential, he added, existed throughout Chile.28 In 1899, Salazar published a long monograph on the cost of long-distance electricity transport, a key technical hurdle for large hydro developments. “Long distance” in this case referred to large blocks of energy traveling beyond the region of influence in a single industrial or urban system. Salazar also noted that the longest such commercially operational line, the 130-kilometer San Bernardino-Los Angeles 33 kV interconnection, operated in an area of California with similar atmospheric conditions to northern Chile.29 To Salazar and his fellow boosters, Chilean rivers were reserves of wealth. Salazar argued that the energy in steep mountain streams (or from artificial diversions) contained potentially more riches than the most productive operations in the mining sector, then enjoying the fruits of the nitrate boom in the north. The problem was a lack of imagination, in part due to the immaterial nature of electricity. Chileans “do not favor such abstract industrial endeavors, in which the initial product extracted is not a gold nugget or something else equally tangible.”30 Salazar also compared torrential rivers to large fuel reserves for industry. Northern countries such as the United States and Canada had already tapped into their reserves. Chile lacked an industrial and manufacturing base to absorb the energy in its rivers, and thus neither the state nor private interests had put much effort into quantifying and studying this new resource.31 An even more enthusiastic Vergara Montt called the power in Chilean rivers an “inexhaustible source of wealth,” misunderstood by present generations, who only knew the agricultural (and mineral) products that had fueled the export-led economy since independence. He thus argued for a broader understanding of Chile’s natural wealth, one that included not only the material commodities extracted from the soil, but also “natural forces” which could be exploited to produce new goods and resources.32   28 Arturo E. Salazar, Kálkulos sobre las kañerías de agua (Santiago, Chile: Hume I K., 1898), 97–99. 29 Arturo E. Salazar, Trasmision eléktrika de potenzia a largas distanzias (Santiago, Chile: Hume I K., 1899), 2, 6. 30 Salazar and Newman, Kosto komparatibo, 56. 31 Salazar, Kálkulos, 4–5. 32 Vergara Montt, “Valor mecánico,” 193–94, 283–84. 24    Riparian Cartographies Salazar and many other engineers of the era drew inspiration from Comtean positivism, a philosophical influence that would persist among subsequent generations of politicians and technocrats of middle-class background.33 The river basin as a planning tool also has its roots in 19th century positivist pursuits of natural truths and objective scientific categories to organize and contain the chaotic social and natural worlds.34 In the 20th century, regional development initiatives like the TVA in the United States continued this project on a grander scale, harnessing rivers for power, flood control, navigation and irrigation. Chile’s slender territory and unevenly distributed water resources placed some limits on this sort of approach to water development. Most rivers run short courses and drain relatively small catchment areas, while flow regimes range from weak and intermittent in the north to torrential and year-round in the south. Given these geographical particularities, the regions of the 1943 electrification plan grouped hydrologically similar rivers into territorial units that had complementary flow regimes (or so it was hoped). Engineers at the state power company later compared the plan’s territorial organization to a complex system of inter-basin transfers, where water moved through space as a current of electricity.35 The seasonal flow regimes of Chilean rivers vary by latitude and by altitude. In the north, where the climate ranges from arid desert to dry Mediterranean, rivers tend to surge in the spring and summer with runoff from melting glaciers and snowpack in the mountainous upper catchment areas. Moving south into less arid zones, winter rainfall in lower altitude sections of river basins has an increasing influence on seasonal discharge. The average annual flow also becomes larger and more stable. Between the Ñuble and Bío-Bío rivers, flow regimes are mixed, peaking once during the winter rains and a second time during the summer snowmelt. South of the Bío-Bío, the rivers switch to mostly pluvial regimes, which peak in the winter.36 As envisioned in the 1943 plan, northern hydroelectric plants would ramp up production in the summer and southern plants in the winter, redistributing regional water surpluses and deficits through long-distance interconnections. The direct antecedents to this riparian territorial representation of Chile are difficult to trace through the historical record. However, numerous precedents and examples existed by 1940. In the first hydrographic studies of the territory, colonial surveyors explored the coast and charted maritime trade routes, practicing an “imperial hydrography” to advance the commercial and political interests of European powers. After independence, “national hydrography” in the newly formed Republic of Chile turned inward as it became  33 Silva, In the Name of Reason, chap. 1. 34 François Molle, “River-Basin Planning and Management: The Social Life of a Concept,” Geoforum 40, no. 3 (2009): 484–94. 35 Court M. and Maturana B., “Planificación,” 96–97. 36 Cristián Maturana B., “Características fundamentales de los recursos hidráulicos de Chile,” in Los recursos de agua en Chile y su utilización en la generación de energía eléctrica, ed. AIE (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros de ENDESA, 1974), 9–80. It should be noted that some of these regional characteristics are evolving as a result of climate change. 25    entwined in nation-building and territorial expansion. Starting in the 1830s, the Chilean Navy undertook the first such surveys, venturing farther inland to chart lakes and rivers and identify ports and fluvial transport corridors that could further the young nation’s economic and political integration.37 Natural scientists and geographers in the government’s employ also began to explore, study and describe rivers as part of broader inventories and land surveys, contributing to the emergence of what historian Rafael Sagredo Baeza has called the “geographical idea” of the nascent republic. The country’s most striking geographic features – the Andes, the northern desert and the Pacific Coast – suggested natural territorial boundaries. By contrast, the relatively small rivers of Chile were less impressive when compared with the continent-spanning basin systems on the eastern side of the Andes and elsewhere in the Americas, as some mid-19th century observers noted. Evidently, rivers were not yet seen as significant markers of territory, nor as the reserves of wealth that electrification boosters would later describe. Defining external boundaries, moreover, seems to have taken precedence over internally focused forms of territorialization, at least until later in the century once the physical geography of Chile was better understood and the construction of the railroad got underway. From the late 1870s onwards, however, the state agency in charge of census-taking started carving up the country based on climate, physical geography and economic activity, eventually devising four internal regions that were later incorporated in an influential geography text published at the end of the century.38  Concurrently, Pedro José Amado Pissis (né Pierre Joseph Aimé), a French geologist hired by the government, published his own Geografia física de la República de Chile (1875) on Chile’s natural history and geography, summarizing numerous decades of travel, research and writing. The study included descriptions of regional climates and river basins, with what might be described as an early attempt to delineate hydrological regions. Pissis used three spatial categories to group rivers based on flow type – small rivers of the arid north, larger rivers fed by snowmelt and precipitation in the central Mediterranean region, and the high-volume, meandering rivers south of Curicó – and came up with two classes of basin based on whether the main stem of a river originated in the Andes or the Coastal Range. He identified 17 basins between Copiapó and Reloncaví and recorded general observations about each. These early basin studies are primarily descriptive and focus on physical geography and climate, although Pissis occasionally remarked on actual or potential uses of rivers for irrigation and transport. In another  37 The naval surveys were also connected to Chile’s border disputes with Peru and Bolivia in the north and with Argentina in the far south. Rafael Sagredo Baeza, “De la hidrografía imperial a la hidrografía nacional. Reconocimientos del Pacífico sur. Siglos XVIII y XIX,” Anuario de Estudios Americanos 70, no. 2 (2013): 509–56. 38 Rafael Sagredo Baeza, “La ‘idea’ geográfica de Chile en el siglo XIX,” Mapocho 44 (1998): 123–64. See also Sagredo Baeza, “Chile.” For 19th century observations on the inferiority of Chilean rivers, see Vicente Pérez Rosales, Ensayo sobre Chile (1859; repr., Santiago, Chile: Cámara Chilena de la Construcción, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Biblioteca Nacional de Chile, 2010), 53; Pedro Lucio Cuadra, Apuntes sobre la jeografía física i política de Chile. Primera parte: jeografía física (Santiago, Chile: Imprenta Nacional, 1868), 43. 26    section, he also described different precipitation zones, noting the extreme variation in rainfall across Chile.39   Pissis did not incorporate direct flow measurements into his basin studies, instead estimating the annual discharge of certain rivers based on average rainfall and catchment surface area.40 The absence of historical streamflow data would continue into the following century, creating challenges for the authors of the electrification plan when they sought to quantify Chile’s hydropower potential in the 1940s. In-stream measurements were rare before the 1900s. When new gauging instruments and methods were finally introduced in Chile, they were mostly used in site-specific studies, rather than basin-wide surveys. Private irrigators associations likely collected some of the first streamflow measurements at the turn of the century. In the 1910s and 1920s, private power utilities and mining companies installed the first gauge stations for hydroelectric projects. At the same time, the government began taking streamflow measurements for irrigation, gradually building up a national network of water level and flow gauge stations.41  In the pages of the Anales of the Institute of Engineers, many Chileans involved in these measurement schemes during the early decades of the 1900s analyzed the latest ideas and problems in the emerging discipline of hydrology. Given the engineering background of the participants, these discussions tended to be highly technical and utilitarian in their focus, but they also touched on broader issues of water management and conservation, paralleling the conservation movement that was developing in the United States at the time.42 The Chilean engineers evidently paid attention to ideas circulating in the United States and occasionally commented on them in the institute’s journal, but a key early influence appears to have been French treatises on Alpine rivers.43 The specific topics of analysis varied, including applied problems in irrigation, flood protection, river navigation and power generation (all typical for the era), as well as more abstract questions related to the science of hydrology. Recurring concerns included the need for long-term planning, stronger regulations and legal oversight, and the promotion of efficient water use.  39 Amado Pissis, Geografía física de la República de Chile (Paris: Instituto Geográfico de París, 1875), 205–9, 216–18. 40 Pissis, 250. 41 For brief overviews of hydrology’s development in Chile (written by practitioners), see Andrés Benítez Girón, “Evolución de la hidrología en el mundo y en Chile,” Anales de la Universidad de Chile 8 (1985): 591–609; Hans Niemeyer Fernández and Pilar Cereceda Troncoso, Geografía de Chile, Tomo VIII: Hidrografía (Santiago, Chile: Instituto Geográfico Militar, 1984), 13–15. 42 In Chile, the origins of conservationism are usually traced to the German scientist Federico Albert, who documented rampant deforestation in the south during the early 20th century. Albert’s utilitarian ecological preoccupations extended to deforestation’s effects on the hydrological cycle and power generation, among other water uses, but his overarching concerns lay with its impacts on agriculture land and food supply. For overviews of Albert’s life and ideas, see Rafael Elizalde Mac-Clure, Federico Albert: el padre de la conservación en Chile (Santiago, Chile: Instituto Forestal, 1970); Pablo Camus, “Federico Albert: artífice de la gestión de los bosques de Chile,” Revista de Geografía Norte Grande 30 (2003): 55–63. 43 See, e.g., Domingo Casanova O., “Memoria sobre las causas de las inundaciones de Valparaíso y los medios de evitarlas,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile 23 (1892): 378–404; Manuel Trucco, “Características i peligros que presenta el régimen torrencial (Continuará),” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 9 (1903): 392–421; Eduardo Reyes Cox, “El problema del mejoramiento de los ríos ante los últimos congresos de navegación,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 8 (1908): 338–51. 27    The engineer Gustavo Lira, who had a long career as a public servant and university professor, is considered a local pioneer of hydrology as an applied science. Lira worked in government when the state was building out its network of hydrometric stations in the 1910s and later published a textbook that introduced basic methods and concepts to the next generation of Chilean hydrologists, who would go on to work in the state bureaucracy or the national power company. The textbook was one of the first to incorporate case studies of rivers located in Chile, rather than some foreign land.44 Lira was also an early advocate of exploiting rivers for power and was involved in the creation of the first electricity regulator in the 1920s, serving as its director on two occasions.45 By the 1910s, the idea of rivers as fonts of economic potential was more widely embraced; Chilean rivers were no longer inferior, at least in the eyes of local engineers.46 In a 1915 article on stream-gauging techniques published in the Anales, Lira questioned the prevailing wisdom about Chile’s wealth of water, arguing for a more nuanced understanding of resource endowments. Part of this wealth, he explained, derived from an “external nature” (naturaleza exterior) that, in an unmodified state, conformed to societal needs. As an example, Lira pointed to the topography of central and southern Chile, where short and steep river courses descended rapidly from the Andes – ideal sites for power generation. He also noted the contrasting seasonal flow peaks, which he said was a defining characteristic distinguishing central from southern rivers. This mountainous landscape, as a form of external nature, provided generous opportunities for irrigation and power generation. Extracting that wealth, however, depended on human intervention to harness the rivers to specific projects, which introduced the potential for error and waste. Avoiding these risks and ensuring rational exploitation, Lira argued, required a more thorough understanding of the hydrological regimes governing Chile’s water courses – that is, knowing the behavior of rivers through measurement.47 A Chilean Policy for Chile The Great Depression plunged Chile into economic and political turmoil. By one estimate, in 1932 the national domestic product had nearly halved and the total value of exports had shrunk by more than 80% in comparison to 1929.48 Global copper and nitrate prices went into freefall, a death knell for the latter industry in Chile, which was already struggling to compete with synthetic fertilizers. The drain on public  44 Benítez Girón, “Evolución de la hidrología,” 598–99; Niemeyer Fernández and Cereceda Troncoso, Hidrografía, 14. 45 “Medalla de Oro Otorgó El Instituto a Don Gustavo Lira Manso,” Revista Chilena de Ingeniería, March-April 1959. 46 Nonetheless, the notion that Chilean rivers were mediocre in comparison to large fluvial networks elsewhere in the Americas persisted in the published works of some engineers, although this perception did not diminish their enthusiasm for the transformative potential of water development. See, e.g., Santiago Marín Vicuña, “La navegación fluvial,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile 10 (1917): 433–53. 47 Lira appears to have derived this conceptualization of natural wealth from the political economic writings of Russian-French sociologist Jacques Novicow. Gustavo Lira, “Aforo de ríos,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 1 (1915): 32–33. 48 Figures calculated from Patricio Meller, Un siglo de economía política chilena (1890-1990) (Santiago, Chile: Editorial Andrés Bello, 1996), 49. 28    funding also temporally paralyzed the expansion of the state-owned network of river gauges.49 The military regime of Gen. Ibáñez collapsed by mid-1931, giving way to a period of political and social instability lasting over a year. After 1932, the private power utilities, which had expanded rapidly in the 1920s, froze spending on new capacity and bitterly fought with regulators over rate increases. In 1935, a financial scandal at the largest utility, Chilectra, owned by U.S. investors, led the government to threaten the company with a US$2 million fine, seemingly paving the way for expropriation. While the move received broad support, the government eventually took a more conciliatory approach, extracting from Chilectra various concessions, including a commitment to invest in a new hydro plant, in exchange for waiving the fine. Negotiated by Chilean finance minister Gustavo Ross, the compromise was nonetheless controversial among members of the Institute of Engineers and reformist and left-wing politicians, who would use it against Ross when he ran for president against Aguirre Cerda in 1938.50 Against this backdrop, a group of engineers at the University of Chile began drafting a policy document on electrification. The document, known as the Política eléctrica chilena (Chilean Electricity Policy), would serve as a blueprint for the national electrification plan implemented in 1943. Many historians and contemporary observers have described the Política as the brainchild of Reinaldo Harnecker von Kretschmann, an electrical engineer and professor at the University of Chile. Born in 1895 in Papudo, a coastal town to the north of Santiago, Harnecker was the son of German immigrants who arrived in southern Chile during a wave of colonization in the 19th century. Before moving to central Chile, his father worked as a mining engineer in the northern nitrate industry, inventing a cost-effective leaching system and advocating for national control over the disputed resource during the War of the Pacific. Later in life, the elder Harnecker championed the modernization of the mining industry and the creation of a state corps of mining engineers. One of Reinaldo’s colleagues would later speculate that the elder Harnecker’s mining experience was a formative influence on his son’s views of Chile and its natural resources.51 The younger Harnecker himself remarked in the 1950s: Many of our predecessors failed to take note of certain natural bounties, some now vanished from the national heritage, others diminished or threatened. However, these riches were very much visible to others from that past era. There were some among us who saw [those riches] and who were able to appreciate them for their true value. But perhaps they lacked the means to defend them and, despite their tenacity, were unable to overcome the circumstances.52  49 Benítez Girón, “Evolución de la hidrología,” 596–97. 50 Nazer Ahumada, Couyoumdjian, and Camus Gayan, CGE, 95–96; Richard J. Walter, Politics and Urban Growth in Santiago, Chile, 1891-1941 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005), 195–98; Yáñez, “La intervención del estado,” 123. 51 Raúl Sáez S., “Don Reinaldo y la ENDESA,” Revista Chilena de Ingeniería, No. 401, October 1988, 7–8. 52 From the text of a 1953 speech printed in “Medalla de oro y diploma de honor a Don Reinaldo Harnecker,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile 11–12 (1953): 311–21. Also quoted in Sáez S., “Don Reinaldo y la ENDESA,” 8. 29    It is also possible that Harnecker was referring to former president José Manuel Balmaceda (1886-1891), whose advocacy for national control over the nitrate and rail industries and death in the 1891 civil war cemented his enduring reputation as a nationalist and anti-imperialist.53 Since the 1880s, foreign capital had captured large swaths of the Chilean export economy, first the nitrate business and then copper production after the turn of the century. And while the nitrate boom had flooded the state’s coffers with export taxes, the shift to a single commodity industry exposed the economy to vicious boom-and-bust cycles in an era of otherwise unprecedented fiscal abundance, fueling calls to redirect some of the resource wealth into more enduring industries and public works. All of this fed the sense of pessimism about Chile’s economic prospects that permeated various corners of society on the eve of the nation’s centennial in 1910.54 Another large concentration of foreign capital had developed in the power sector by the 1920s, when U.S. investors consolidated control of the largest utilities in Santiago and Valparaíso. Private utilities and mining companies also began to amass water rights for power generation, which seems to have alarmed at least some government officials.55 In March 1920, the public works minister asked his subordinates for a report on the legality of reserving water rights for the state. With a surge of requests for rights on the Loa and Maipo rivers, the minister was concerned that Chile’s hydropower resources would fall entirely into the hands of large trusts, as had occurred in the coal industry. Evidently familiar with Salazar’s work, he observed that Chile’s geography favored the creation of a long “electrical artery” to deliver affordable energy to consumers throughout the country.56 It is unclear if such a report was ever produced, but the 1925 Electricity Services Law did take modest steps to strengthen state oversight, including the granting of water rights. In its preamble, the law described electricity as a “raw material” of industry that had mostly failed to attain the level of development expected in a country with Chile’s “hydrographic conditions,” due to the inadequacy of previous legal instruments to promote power.57 In 1924, Harnecker started teaching at the University of Chile, where he had previously studied under Arturo Salazar, and became a full professor in 1932, taking charge of the engineering school’s electricity laboratory. In this position, Harnecker sent out students to conduct field studies of hydropower projects in unexplored areas of Chile. The first expedition involved a group of three students who traveled in the province of Valdivia, in the southern Lakes District, during March and May of 1934. The purpose of the trip was to conduct field studies for a project to divert the Puyehue Lake into the adjacent Rupanco,  53 In the 1970s, an academic researcher (and former ENDESA employee) interviewed Harnecker and other high-level CORFO officials and politicians, who traced the origins of their political economic ideas to Balmaceda. Duque, “The Chilean National Electric Enterprise,” 116–24, 404 (note 81). 54 Ibáñez Santa María, Herido en el ala, 33–58.  55 Ibáñez Santa María, “Los particulares y el Estado,” 51. 56 O. Dávila I. to Director de Obras Públicas, 26 March 1920, Fondo MOP, vol. 3073, ARNAD. 57 Quoted in Sagredo Baeza, “Electricidad,” 340. 30    exploiting the gradient between the two lakes to produce power and regulate the Rahue River, whose flow had become increasingly irregular due to deforestation.58 Scarce funding left the students ill-equipped for travel in the rainy hinterlands of southern Chile; one complained of eating charqui (dried horsemeat), using machetes to hack through overgrown paths and traveling along “paradoxical roads submerged in impassable puddles.”59 The same year that his students travelled to Valdivia, Harnecker met with several colleagues in the office of his private consulting business to discuss the electricity problem in Chile.60 These discussions eventually led to the publication of the Política eléctrica in 1936. More polemic than roadmap, the Política is mostly dedicated to diagnosing the power sector’s ills and arguing for new approaches, with relatively little space given to an actual plan for electrification. One of the document’s central contentions is the existence of latent demand – a “hunger for electricity” – that would close the electrification gap with the industrialized nations, which had persisted since the 1890s. The authors calculated Chile’s per-capita consumption of electricity in 1930 at 240 kWh/year, comparing that figure with the more than 1,000 kWh/year consumed in the United States and over 2,000 kWh/year in Canada. Moreover, private mining and industrial establishments were the largest consumers (and producers) of electricity, with just 50 kWh going to public service systems supplying urban demand.61 While mining companies controlled half of the 300,000 kW of installed capacity in the 1930s, Harnecker and his colleagues focused their criticism on the utilities, whose reluctance to invest clashed with the rising public service demand, partly the result of Chilectra’s promotional campaigns to encourage consumption in the 1920s.62 They accused the utilities of being uninterested or unwilling to take action and avert the looming supply crunch, which would “asphyxiate” the economy and prevent Chile from industrializing.63 The solution, they argued, was for the state to intervene in the sector, relegating private utilities to the urban distribution market, and build a national grid to provide a cheap and abundant supply of electricity that would stimulate demand – electricity for development, rather than for profit. Such ideas were, predictably, poorly received by the private utilities. A series of lectures on the Política held by the Institute of Engineers in 1935 provoked a heated debate that continued in the pages of the Anales, where representatives of the utilities aired their concerns. While agreeing that Chile needed more electricity, they denied that investment lagged behind consumption growth and questioned whether a “poor and  58 Raúl Gillet Léliva, “Central hidroeléctrica de Puyehue,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 7 (1935): 311–19. 59 Fernando Juliet Izquierdo, “Central hidroeléctrica Puyehue” (Proyecto para optar al título de ingeniero civil, Santiago, Chile, Universidad de Chile, 1938), BC-FCFM. 60 Sáez S., “Don Reinaldo y la ENDESA,” 13. 61 Reinaldo Harnecker et al., Política eléctrica chilena (1936; repr., Santiago, Chile: Cámara Chilena de la Construcción, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Biblioteca Nacional de Chile, 2012), 16, 19. However, as noted in Chapter 1, Chile at this time did rank among the top per-capita power consumers in Latin America. See Tafunell, “La revolución eléctrica,” 351.  62 Ibáñez Santa María, “Los particulares y el Estado,” 51. 63 Harnecker et al., Política eléctrica chilena, 5–6, 16–18. 31    rough” country like Chile did in fact contain pent-up demand. They also pushed back on the question of public ownership, although they did concede that some government support was necessary.64 An electrification plan appears in a brief chapter at the end of the Política. It divides the country into four regions based on existing power systems and their vulnerability to a supply shortfall. Coal power plant construction is prioritized and hydro development left for the future, given the still pending task of quantifying Chile’s waterpower resources.65 Yet the seeds of a basin-based approach to electrification, along with a belief in the transformative potential of hydropower, are scattered throughout the document. For example, the authors examined cases of electrification from around the world, finding in Norway a model of low-cost hydroelectricity powering industrial development and in Sweden a case of long-distance transmission lines connecting complementary hydrological regions.66 In electrification, they also saw a cure for the prevailing pessimism about the future:  We are accustomed to hearing that we live in a poor country. This is only true insofar as capital is concerned. We live in a country that may be poor in money but is rich with possibilities for wealth creation. Daring initiatives based on the latest technical advancements will allow us to escape today’s narrow-minded arguments.67 In this view, electricity was intimately linked to all activities in Chile, and the authors equated power over the grid with power over the economic and social spheres, as well as independence from foreign influence.68 Here, they were following in the footsteps of 19th century advocates of railroad nationalization.69 But a national grid was also a means to centralize control over waterpower resources to ensure their rational exploitation, which meant achieving the lowest cost per watt without jeopardizing future projects, or other water uses. Secondary benefits included more careful stewardship of Chile’s organic and mineral energy reserves, namely wood, coal and imported fuels. National electrification was, in the engineers’ words, “the most efficient solution for providing the energy which a region or an entire country needs for development, at the lowest cost and with minimal waste of natural resources.”70  Chile’s hydrography is woven into these arguments. In an early chapter, the authors discussed load balancing across different hydrological regimes to maximize output and reduce production costs.71 Later, they divided the area between Atacama and Puerto Montt (the future service area of the national grid) into  64 For a summary of the responses by the utilities, see Yáñez, “La intervención del estado,” 126. 65 Harnecker et al., Política eléctrica chilena, 187–98. 66 Harnecker et al., 146–48, 161–63. Other case studies looked at utility policies in Canada, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Uruguay.  67 Harnecker et al., 67. 68 Harnecker et al., 107–8. 69 Cf. Yáñez, “La intervención del estado.” 70 Harnecker et al., Política eléctrica chilena, 52, 61. Quote is on p. 103. 71 Harnecker et al., 53–61. 32    three different hydrological regions, while also taking note of the east-west distribution of dam sites in the Andes and coal deposits and ports on the coast. The “efficient solutions” of a national electrification plan were reinforced by this geography, which provided the optimal conditions for building a large technological system: “Given its geographic configuration and the variety, abundance and distribution of our resources for hydro and thermoelectric generation, Chile finds itself, in our view, in a privileged position to embark on a national electrification plan, under far better conditions compared to other countries that have already initiated policies of this nature.”72 These technical and environmental justifications for a national grid also contain an implicit criticism of private power developers, who had done little to interconnect the disparate systems in Chile after 1930. In the 1920s, Chilectra had interconnected Santiago and Valparaíso through an electrified railroad line and incorporated various small networks around the capital, but further system expansion was paralyzed by economic crisis in the 1930s. The second largest utility, the locally owned CGEI, also drew up plans to interconnect and expand its southern properties, but these were only partially complete at the onset of the Great Depression.73 Mining-owned systems, in turn, retained their enclave form, with minimal incentives to interconnect with external systems. For the authors of the Política, building a national grid called for a centralized entity, free from political influence and unbeholden to foreign or local regional interests. In other words, only a technical state-owned enterprise was qualified for the next stage of electrification on a national scale. Moreover, this state company was to hold a monopoly over water rights to all potential hydro sites.74  Interestingly, the only explicit critique of Chile’s suitability for a national grid came several years later from one of the Política’s authors, Hernán Edwards, an engineer from Valparaíso. In an article published in July 1938, Edwards downplayed his contributions to the study and echoed many of the critiques made by the utilities. Low population density, he further argued, impeded the construction of a large grid outside of urban clusters around Santiago and Concepción. Edwards also pointed out that production shortages were brewing in the coal industry. To save coal for other uses, he proposed building 140,000 kW of hydroelectric capacity across five regions, each based on local hydrological conditions and existing power systems.75 A National Plan It is unclear if Edward’s critique influenced subsequent developments leading to the creation of the electrification plan. Less than a year later, however, the landscape of interlinked basins hinted at in the  72 Harnecker et al., 103–4, also 53–61. 73 Nazer Ahumada, Couyoumdjian, and Camus Gayan, CGE, 91–92, 103–6. 74 Harnecker et al., Política eléctrica chilena, 116–17, 217–19. 75 Hernán Edwards, “Electricidad y carbón,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 7 (1938): 315–31. 33    Política eléctrica coalesced in a paper that Harnecker presented at an engineering conference held in January 1939, just one week before the Chillán earthquake rocked the south. In the paper, Harnecker bemoaned the “erroneous and pernicious” influence of the central nerve paradigm pioneered by his mentor Arturo Salazar (he avoided criticizing his former teacher directly, blaming others for abusing the concept). The old ways of thinking among Chilean engineers had to be replaced with a more geographically attuned approach that divided the territory into seven regions based on annual rainfall, seasonal flow regimes and the spatial distribution of demand centers. Electrification in each region was to proceed separately at first, gradually building toward a unified national grid. Whereas the Política addressed short-term needs, the new approach would utilize the full potential of Chile’s rivers over the long run. After all, Harnecker said, Chile’s hydro resources were abundant but not unlimited and thus demanded “rational, harmonious and un-wasteful” exploitation.76 As outlined in Harnecker’s paper, the first two regions, extending some 1,500 kilometers from the Peruvian border to just north of Santiago, were arid, sparsely populated and poorly suited for large hydro development. Systems in this area would take the form of “longitudinal vertebrae,” connecting thermoelectric plants on the coast with inland mining sites to the east – in other words, following the development patterns established by mining operators. Separated by large stretches of empty desert, systems here would develop in isolation, except for the southernmost grids, which could later interconnect with Santiago. The third region, which included the regional system around the capital, was the Mediterranean area with larger rivers fed mostly by glaciers and snow in the mountains. This region could support sizeable run-of-river hydro plants and “latitudinal” systems on a north-south axis, positioning them for future tie-ins with adjacent networks. The fourth region, centered around Concepción, contained rivers with mixed flow regimes, as well as two lakes – Maule and Laja – for storage and regulation and coastal coal deposits for steam power. The rivers were entirely pluvial in the fifth region, corresponding to the southern frontier zone, and had numerous natural reservoirs. The navigability of some southern rivers, if paired with abundant and affordable hydroelectricity, could also facilitate the installation of heavy industry in the mostly agricultural region (an idea which we will revisit in Chapter 4, albeit in a different region). Finally, the rivers in the sixth and seventh regions, located in Patagonia, had development potential, but were too sparsely populated and underexplored to warrant immediate attention.77   76 Reinaldo Harnecker, “Desarrollo armónico de un plan de electrificación del país, ejecutado y explotado en la generación, transmisión y distribución primaria de la energía eléctrica, por el estado con fines de fomento,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 6 (1939): 318–22. 77 Harnecker, 322–25. 34    The national grid that was to link up this envirotechnical imaginary would ultimately exclude the territory’s extremities: the desert region in the far north, which would remain the domain of the mining industry, and the two regions in the far south, pending further exploration. In the first phase, isolated systems would emerge in each of the five central regions, with the largest centered around Santiago and Concepción. In the next phase, interconnections would smooth out supply or demand deficits by linking “centers of gravity” across regions. In this phase, Harnecker expected power to flow south to north, a reflection of Santiago’s gravitational pull on political power and material resources in the rest of Chile. The final phase would install long-distance power lines to unify the grid from Coquimbo to Puerto Montt. To bolster the technical argument for this final phase, Harnecker pointed to the Boulder Dam on the Colorado River and the planned Aswan Dam in Egypt, both of which used high-voltage lines to move energy over long distances.78 The government had mostly ignored the electrification debates in the 1930s. Only in 1938 did the Irrigation Department in the Ministry of Development79 initiate feasibility studies for a handful of hydroelectric plants, including projects on the Maipo and Rapel rivers. These studies carried over into the administration of Aguirre Cerda, who took office in December 1938. By the time he presented at the conference in January, Harnecker had already joined a commission convened by the new finance minister, Roberto Wachholtz, to study Chile’s electricity problem. The commission was chaired by Raúl Simón, president of the Institute of Engineers, and included the head of the private utility association, a sign that Wachholtz sought to temper the more radical views of Harnecker and his co-authors on public ownership and electricity rates.80 The commission’s final report did tone down some of the Política eléctrica’s stronger language on private companies, but it also adopted many of its main premises, accepting that the state would play a central role in a new phase of electrification on a national scale.81 As Simón later told CORFO’s board of directors, a national power grid was the foundation for the next stage of industrial production. The magnitude of such a project required the state to intervene just as it had done in the 19th century to complete the central railroad, the spinal column of Chile’s first phase of economic growth.82 However, the commission did not embrace Harnecker’s regionalized approach to electrification, focusing instead on shorter-term supply needs. The Simón report was finished in March 1939 in the context of a rapidly shifting political scenario, accelerated by the January earthquake. Congress passed the relief bill creating CORFO in April. Several  78 Harnecker, 327–30. 79 This was the name of the ministry which replaced the Ministry of Public Works from 1927 to 1942. 80 Yáñez, “La intervención del estado,” 126–27. 81 See Raúl Simón et al., “El problema de la energía en Chile y plan de electrificación nacional,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile 4 (1939): 207–59. 82 Raúl Simón, “Plan de electrificación,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile 12 (1939): 551–62. 35    months later, the corporation’s directors appointed Simón to lead its Permanent Commission on Energy and Fuels, which also included members of congress and representatives from the industrial, mining and utility sectors. This new commission oversaw CORFO’s Energy and Fuels Department, staffed mostly by professors and graduates from the engineering school at the University of Chile. The head of the department was Guillermo Moore, an engineer with a background in sanitation. Harnecker became the chief of the technical staff, who threw themselves into the task of planning the next wave of electrification, pulling double shifts in a cramped three-room office in downtown Santiago.83 In August, the department released an “immediate action plan,” one of several such reports that CORFO issued in 1939 to outline short-term goals for strategic economic sectors. To shore up the electricity supply, the plan tentatively proposed building nine small hydroelectric plants over three years, while CORFO studied additional long-term projects and provided loans to small utilities struggling to keep the lights on.84  Planning for the first state-sponsored hydroelectric plants began immediately. The Energy Department’s technical committee was evaluating projects by its second meeting in November.85 Eventually, it settled on three initial sites: Sauzal, north of Santiago on the Cachapoal River; Abanico, east of Concepción on the Laja River; and Pilmaiquén on the eponymous river near the southern city of Valdivia. For Pilmaiquén, the technical committee had to purchase water rights from the project’s original sponsor, the southern utility holding SAESA, which was uninterested in developing the plant jointly with CORFO.86 In 1938, the previous government had taken some legal measures to reserve water rights for state use in hydropower development, issuing decrees for sections of the Maipo and Pilmaiquén rivers.87 At CORFO, the technical committee’s meeting minutes from late 1939 and early 1940 show that the Energy Department also considered a broader decree to reserve additional water rights for the state, although it is unclear if the proposal ever moved beyond the draft stage.88 After 1939, the electricity services regulator did toughen its criteria for approving water rights for power generation. This included denying requests for sites where it was determined in the national interest for CORFO to build a plant, or for small-scale hydro projects deemed wasteful or inefficient. As the regulator’s director later elaborated in a memorandum: “Power stations that do not technically exploit the full gradient in certain sections of rivers  83 Sáez S., “Don Reinaldo y la ENDESA,” 20. Later, most of the department’s staff, including Moore and Harnecker, transferred to ENDESA, which took over the electrification plan in 1944. Moore became the company’s general manager, Harnecker its technical director. 84 CORFO, “Fomento de la producción de energía eléctrica” (Santiago, Chile: Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, 1939), BN-MC. 85 CTE, Acta No. 2, 6 Nov. 1939, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. 86 CTE, Acta No. 20, 21 Feb. 1940, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. 87 For Maipo, see Ministerio de Fomento, Decreto No. 1941, ? Oct. 1938, Fondo MF, vol. 1415, ARNAD. For Pilmaiquén, see Ministerio del Interior, Decreto No. 2070, 6 June 1938, Fondo MI, vol. 9629, ARNAD. 88 A representative from the Irrigation Department at one point raised concerns about the decree’s legality. No mention of the decree appears in the minutes after Feb. 21, 1940, although the record of one session is missing around this date. See, generally, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. For the legal concerns, see CTE, Acta No. 10, 12 Dec. 1939, Op. Cit. 36    or the entire streamflow will eventually result in the deficient exploitation of the [river’s] energy, due to the plant’s reduced capacity.”89 CORFO hoped to complete the first three plants within three years, but the outbreak of WWII delayed those plans. Pilmaiquén was eventually completed in 1944, while Abanico and Sauzal were not put in service until 1948. By April 1942, Harnecker was recommending that the technical committee consider building small thermoelectric plants to avert an expected supply deficit. Private utilities apparently remained unwilling or unable to invest in new power stations, while the war effort was holding up export license applications in the United States, which had granted a loan to CORFO to purchase turbines and generators for Abanico and Sauzal from North American suppliers.90 Declining production rates and labor unrest in the coal regions had also raised concerns within the government about fuel supplies. Starting in late 1939, CORFO began looking to international markets to procure a reserve supply of coal, while its technical staff studied ways to boost output at the mines.91 Strikes in the Gulf of Arauco soon threw those plans into disarray, and by late 1940 CORFO engineers feared a severe supply deficit was on the horizon.92  As this was happening, the department’s technical staff, under the guidance of Harnecker, were finalizing the electrification plan. The technical committee received a draft in October 1941 and approved it in September the following year. It then worked its way up the CORFO hierarchy, receiving final approval from the board of directors in March 1943. The final document quoted heavily from the Política eléctrica and incorporated the seven electrical regions from Harnecker’s 1939 presentation, with some modifications. In one case, the third region’s southern boundary was expanded to bring the Maule River into the orbit of the energy-hungry systems around Santiago. The change also reflected hydrological and geographical considerations since the slightly more pluvial regime of the Maule complemented the glacier-fed rivers near the capital.93 The first of the plan’s three stages was expected to wrap up by 1957. Initially, Sauzal, Abanico and Pilmaiquén were to anchor new systems in regions 3, 4 and 5, respectively. In addition, a small plant on Los Molles River would support a new system in Region 2, while the Cipreses plant (the future site of the bust honoring Arturo Salazar) would provide additional capacity for Santiago in Region 3.  89 Domingo Santa María S, “Memorándum – Dirección General de Servicios Eléctricos,” 2 April 1942, Fondo MI, vol. 11421, ARNAD. 90 CTE, Acta No. 79, 30 April 1942, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5077, ARNAD. 91 See CPEC, Acta No. 43, 4 June 1940, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5052, ARNAD, as well as other sessions around this date. 92 CPEC, Acta No. 56, 10 Sept. 1940, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5052, ARNAD. 93 CORFO, Plan de electrificación del país de la Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, Chile: directivas generales y plan de electrificación primaria del país (Santiago, Chile: Imprenta y litografía Universo, 1942), 59–60. The copy of the plan consulted for this study was printed in 1942, hence the date discrepancy. As noted above, CORFO’s directors gave the final approval for the plan in 1943, which is why I refer to it in the text as the “1943 plan.” 37    The end goal of the plan was an interconnected grid that could balance supply and demand across different hydrological regions.94 The system would smoothly redistribute the load through daily, weekly and seasonal adjustments, an idealized network in which society, nature and technology interacted via “harmonic pulses” of energy. The state was to build “primary” generation and transmission infrastructure, leaving urban distribution networks to the private utilities. The plan also incorporated secondary projects for mechanical irrigation and rural electrification, a sign that the engineers in the Energy Department had been paying attention to multi-use reservoir projects of the TVA in the United States. In fact, since 1939 several CORFO personnel had travelled north on 6- to 12-month tours of the TVA’s facilities in the southern United States.95 Concerns about the sustainability of the coal supply also seem to have influenced the design of the plan, amplifying previous arguments about rationalizing and reducing consumption of finite fuel stocks. The plan described the country as “coal poor,” even though it was one of the few coal-producing nations in Latin America at the time. Chile should instead conserve its limited reserves for heat and other uses expected to increase with industrialization, but which could not be substituted with electricity.96 It was also true that labor conflicts threatened supply stability, as the recent strikes had illustrated. A 1942 report by an engineer in the Energy and Fuels Department pointed out recurring labor shortages at the mines during the harvest season, when miners left to work in the countryside.97 Water, whose ability to produce energy depended primarily on the hydrological cycle, was less vulnerable to Chile’s volatile labor politics. Since late 1939, brigades of CORFO surveyors had systematically inventoried the hydropower resources in Chile’s river basins. Initial results reported in the electrification plan indicated that the national hydro endowment was far greater than initially believed. The surveys estimated that regions 1-5 of the plan contained 3,800-6,000 MW of potential capacity, versus a previous rough estimate of 1,000-3,500 MW.98 (At the time, total installed capacity of all power plants in Chile was just under 500 MW.) Nonetheless, the plan’s authors insisted that Chile’s hydro resources were not unlimited and needed to be developed carefully and deliberately. Moreover, the plan had to remain flexible in order to incorporate new data culled from the ongoing efforts to collect and standardize hydrological knowledge for power generation. Harnecker said as much at a meeting in CORFO’s offices in October 1941, explaining that the  94 CORFO, 65–66. The hydrological complementarity of the regions is stated more explicitly in the second edition of the plan from the 1950s. ENDESA, Plan de electrificación del país: segunda publicación (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., 1956), 97–98. 95 “TVA – Symbol of Valley Resource Development” (Knoxville, TN: TVA Technical Library, 1961), 74–75. Harnecker reportedly kept on file at ENDESA hundreds of letters and reports from Chilean engineers who visited the TVA and other U.S. agencies during 1939-1944. Duque, “The Chilean National Electric Enterprise,” 424 (note 5).  96 CORFO, Plan de electrificación, iii, 41–44. 97 CPEC, Acta No. 10, 10 March 1942, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5076, ARNAD. 98 CORFO, Plan de electrificación, 44. The previous estimate is from Simón et al., “El problema de la energía,” 221–22. 38    waterpower inventory should serve as the foundation for the electrification plan and industrial planning of any kind in Chile.99 Conclusion The electrification plan developed at a confluence of social, economic, political and technological currents, including the ascendancy of the middle class and a professionalized bureaucracy in Chile, disruptions in the global economy that precipitated a shift to statist economic policies across Latin America, and the emergence of power systems and dams as symbols of modernity and progress. In tracing early antecedents to the plan, this chapter highlights its environmental origins. Chile’s unusual and varied geography is evident to any observer, as demonstrated by the early writings on electrification and rivers. The engineers behind the Política eléctrica and the 1943 plan, directly and indirectly, drew on this previous body of knowledge to mobilize Chile’s rivers for electricity and development. While looking abroad for technological and political economic models, they created a document that was Chilean through and through, reflecting concerns rooted in local economic and political history. Materially distinct from the minerals stored belowground, the water flowing aboveground was, in the eyes of the engineers, an equally important source of wealth that demanded state intervention to protect and steward its development.100 The energy in rivers, moreover, was a potentially transformative force that could introduce profound changes in the economic and social structure of the country, achieving a form of modernity that had so far failed to materialize in Chile.  The final version of El Plan produced a territorial imaginary that united rivers, power systems and consumers – an idealized envirotechnical system in which technology mediated nature-society relations and further consolidated the political geography of Chile. More concretely, these territorial units, designed with the peculiarities of local topography and climate in mind, created a planning framework for the long-term construction of the grid. In theory, this system would develop and operate harmoniously, following the “rational” criteria of the design advanced by Harnecker and his colleagues. In practice, building and managing the system was anything but a harmonious process, while the seasonal complementarity of the riparian regions did not function as smoothly as its proponents had hoped. After all, the variations in Chile’s climate were, in part, the result of atmospheric forces that the networked technologies of the grid could not capture or control. We caught a glimpse of this problem in the drought described at the outset of the preceding chapter. In the chapter that follows, we turn to a case study in  99 CTE, Acta No. 60, 17 Oct. 1941, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. 100 Energy historians have used the concepts of “stocks” and “flows” to distinguish between concentrated mineral sources of energy (such as coal and oil deposits) and organic sources (such as fuelwood from forests) that depend on flows of solar energy. Wrigley, Continuity, Chance and Change; Sieferle, The Subterranean Forest. Hydroelectricity is a hybrid of these two categories since it depends on flows of solar energy, which drive the hydrological cycle, but produces electricity at a single site. Jones, Routes of Power, chap. 5. 39    southern Chile to explore the challenges of implementing the plan and balancing multiple uses of water within a national system.                                  40      Figure 3 – ENDESA’s Hydro Projects Regions 1 to 5 of the electrification plan, along with the first six hydro plants built by ENDESA. The Pullinque and Cipreses systems were not completed at this point (circa 1952). Part of Region 1 is not visible on this map. As the central grid incorporated systems in the north, the border of Region 2 would eventually shift 400 kilometers to the north (compare with Figure 2 in Chapter 1). Image used with permission of Enel Generación Chile. Source: ENDESA, “Central Los Molles” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., 1952), BN-MC.  41    Ch. 3 – Taming the Laja River In the final weeks of October 1981, the Antuco hydroelectric plant began operating on the Laja River, adding 300 MW of generation capacity to the 640 MW already installed upstream. National newspapers declared the river “tamed” and marveled at its reservoir in the Laguna del Laja, nestled between the peaks of the Andes. The military junta’s top brass, including Gen. Augusto Pinochet, attended the inauguration ceremony, where officials praised the state power company ENDESA and its engineers for their decades of hard work. Newspapers also reported official pronouncements that the private sector would take an expanded role in future energy projects. At least one journalist covering the event found these statements ironic, given that it was ENDESA which had conceived and built the Laja complex. Indeed, the first power station built on the river was Abanico, one of the three state-hydro projects initially selected for development by CORFO in 1940. To illustrate this point, the journalist interviewed Raúl Sáez, an engineer involved in the early days of CORFO’s Energy Department who later ascended the ranks at ENDESA and succeeded Harnecker as its manager in the 1960s. “It would be difficult,” Sáez remarked, “for anyone but the state to carry out these projects because they entail comprehensive development and multiple uses [of the reservoir].”1 Nonetheless, over the next decade ENDESA was privatized and the power industry overhauled as Pinochet’s economic advisors applied neoliberal policy prescriptions to nearly every corner of Chilean society. Under the new political economic regime, the Laguna del Laja, the largest reservoir on the central grid, became a key variable in the price-setting mechanism of the deregulated wholesale power market, whose operators sought to balance water conservation against fuel costs.2 If the reservoir level at Laja decreased, the marginal cost of electricity across the entire system increased until adding a new thermoelectric unit to the load became attractive, offsetting hydro output. When the lake level rose, the marginal cost dropped, reducing the economic appeal of thermoelectric power.3 This calculus, however, did not account for other draws on the Laja’s reservoir, setting up the potential for multi-use conflicts, which emerged over the following decades between ENDESA and downstream farmers who relied on the river to irrigate their crops.  1 “Embalse Formado Por Dos Volcanes,” El Mercurio (Santiago), 22 Oct. 1981, BCN-ARP; “El Laja domado,” Hoy (Santiago), 22 Oct.-3 Nov. 1981, BCN-ARP. 2 The wholesale market is where generators transact energy amongst themselves or sell in bulk directly to distribution companies and large consumers. 3 This is a simplified description of a complex model that incorporated other variables as well, such as drought probabilities. The water level at Laja also weighed on longer-term models used to operate the grid. A description of this model, which survives in modified form to this day, is found in Bauer, “Dams and Markets.” See also ENDESA, “Aprovechamiento hidroeléctrico del río Laja” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., 1986), 11–22, BC-FCFM. 42    Those conflicts on the Laja and in other river basins are usually understood within the context of the privatized and loosely regulated power and water markets, both legacies of the economic policies imposed by the Pinochet regime in the 1980s.4 Yet, as Sáez’s comments suggest, the Laja’s present configuration is also the result of decisions, historical processes and material conditions that predate and overlap with those legal and regulatory changes. The recent irrigator conflict hinged, in part, on the terms of a multi-use5 agreement signed shortly after state planners first identified the Laja for waterpower and storage development in the 1940s. Over the next four decades, ENDESA engineers and crews refashioned the lake and upper basin into a complex of tunnels and turbines, synchronized with other power stations and consumers interconnected through the central power grid. The technical and legal interventions at the lake both modified and were shaped by local geological and environmental conditions, while also mediating the relationship between the hydrological cycle and different social actors. Technology, society and nature converged at Laguna del Laja to produce an envirotechnical system that has shaped the politics of water and power before, during and after the refashioning of Chile’s political economy during the 1980s. This chapter explores the origins of the Laja hydroelectric complex to reveal the environmental and technological tensions present from the start of the lake’s transformation into a power reserve “battery.” Interventions in the basin were the result of technical and political decisions and compromises that derived from and produced material linkages reaching far beyond the geographical confines of the watershed. Understanding this process thus requires looking outside of the basin and exploring Laja’s role in the creation of a regional system that powered the industrial development of the Bío-Bío region, and in the emergence of the central grid spanning much of the national territory. The multi-use agreement was intended to ease tensions with local water users as development of the Laja River got underway in the 1940s, but in the end it re-scaled the problem to the national level, pitting energy consumers throughout Chile against farmers in the south.6 As the energy in the Laja’s waters flowed down to the coast and then north and south along the grid, it forged linkages that transformed a lacustrine landscape, the economy of a region and Chilean energy politics.  4 See Carl J. Bauer, Against the Current: Privatization, Water Markets, and the State in Chile (New York: Springer Science+Business Media, 1998), chap. 5; Bauer, “Slippery Property Rights”; Bauer, “Dams and Markets.” For a Laja irrigator’s perspective on the conflicts, see Tulio González Abuter, Canalistas del Laja: 100 años (Los Ángeles, Chile: Asociación Canalistas del Laja, 2016), 98–99.  5 Neither the original agreement nor its 1958 revision (discussed below) contains the phrase “multi-use” or other variants of the term, which only appears in later descriptions (e.g., the above quote by Raúl Sáez). However, the multi-use concept had circulated among local engineering circles since at least the 1930s. E.g., Domingo Santa María, “Debate sobre la ley de regadío,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 11 (1936): 397–402.  6 On the rescaling effects of hydro projects, see Folch, Hydropolitics, 12. 43    Origins of a Lake and a Region  The Laja begins its 125-kilometer course in the Andes, descending west toward the longitudinal Central Valley. After crossing the valley, at its western edge the river converges with the Bío-Bío River, which pushes through the Coastal Range and empties into the Pacific Ocean. The headwaters emerge from Laguna del Laja, near the Argentinian border. The lake sits surrounded by mountains at an altitude of roughly 1,360 meters above sea level, with an elongated shape that extends 33 kilometers north to south with an average width of three kilometers.7 The southern edge of the lakeshore encircles the flanks of the Antuco stratovolcano. Nearby, water seeps through a porous lava dam to one side of the volcano and emerges some three kilometers southwest in the river valley. Old lava flows and glacial deposits hem in the valley near the outlet, but to the west it widens, a topography formed by advancing and retreating ice flows during the last two glaciations. Volcanic and glacier activity dammed and reopened the outlet multiple times, causing the lake to expand and contract. The present shoreline began to appear after a massive eruption between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago blew open Antuco’s cone, spilling the lake into the valley below. Subsequent eruptions formed a new cone in the crater and gradually resealed the outlet. During Antuco’s last major active period in the 1850s, a series of eruptions raised the lake to its current level. Whereas European travelers in the region described a crescent of water hugging the volcano’s base just a few decades earlier, the enlarged lake now spread northward, flooding the valleys of its tributaries.8 Before the state intervened, most of the water that drained into Laguna del Laja came from melting snow and ice in the spring and early summer, which caused the river to peak between September and December. During the winter, snowfall in the mountains replenished the lake’s frozen reserves. In the lower basin, the snow turned to rain, causing the river to surge a second time, giving rise to the Laja’s mixed pluvio-nival flow regime. The Central Valley receives almost no rain for six months in spring and summer, when farmers grow and harvest crops. As a result, the Laja and other mountain streams are crucial to sustaining agriculture in the area below the lake. Before the 1920s, most canal networks along the Laja were small and rudimentary. The arrival of the central railroad in the 1880s, however, connected farmers in the basin to larger markets, and local officials began to clamor for funding to support increasingly ambitious irrigation schemes. Newspaper editorials in the 1890s, for example, called the Andean lake a potential source of “infinite water” that could irrigate the entire Bío-Bío Province.9  7 María Mardones and José Vargas, “Efectos hidrológicos de los usos eléctrico y agrícola en la cuenca del río Laja (Chile centro-sur),” Revista de Geografía Norte Grande, no. 33 (2005): 89–102. 8 Juan Brüggen, “El volcán Antuco y la geología glacial del valle de Laja,” Revista Chilena de Historia y Geografía XCI (1941): 356–86. See also Ricardo Thiele et al., “Evolución geológico-geomorfológica cuaternaria del tramo superior del valle del río Laja,” Revista Geológica de Chile 25, no. 2 (1998): 229–53; Daniel Melnick et al., “Incipient Axial Collapse of the Main Cordillera and Strain Partitioning Gradient between the Central and Patagonian Andes, Lago Laja, Chile,” Tectonics 25, no. 5 (2006): n.p. 9 This description of early irrigation on the Laja in this paragraph and the following one are mostly drawn from González Abuter, Canalistas del Laja, 19–75. The newspaper editorials are cited on pp. 24–25, while the letter to the shareholders (mentioned below) is reprinted in full on pp. 44    These local demands eventually caught the attention of politicians in Santiago. In 1914, the government earmarked funding for the Laja Canal, one of several large irrigation projects intended to mitigate unemployment and food crises that followed the outbreak of WWI. The first large-scale basin development scheme sponsored by the state, the canal was heralded as a major infrastructural undertaking that would revolutionize local agriculture. In his first annual report to shareholders in 1918, the president of the Laja Canal Association, recently formed to administer the canal on behalf of irrigators, proclaimed that the “sterile” region was on the cusp of a productive and prosperous future. The association’s president, Francisco Rioseco Rocha, was a landowner and lawyer from the provincial capital of Los Ángeles, who was also involved in promoting the creation of large pine and eucalyptus plantations. Rioseco and other local elites played an important role in promoting the canal, and large and medium landowners of similar social standing have since dominated the association.10 In the early stages, Rioseco traveled around the province on horseback to marshal the support of skeptical farmers and convince them to join the association, which needed the majority of the canal’s potential beneficiaries to sign off on the project. After work began in 1918, the project was beset by faulty equipment, contract disputes and disagreements between government and provincial engineers over the canal design, all of which caused construction to drag on for years. The last portion of secondary infrastructure was finished by 1928, finally completing the canal network, which remains to this day the largest irrigation system on the Laja.11 In his 1918 letter, Rioseco also predicted that the Laja’s waters would one day power electric trains and illuminate cities and factories, albeit from a plant sited downriver from the future canal’s headgate. At the time, power development in the area was concentrated around the city of Concepción, situated at the mouth of the Bío-Bío. Originally a colonial military outpost, during the 1800s Concepción had become a regional commercial center, a transformation aided by the mid-century wheat export bonanza, the development of local coal mines and the southward expansion of the railroad.12 The coastal mines provided fuel for early urban and industrial power generators installed after the mid-1880s. In 1897, the owner of the coal mine at Lota, just south of Concepción, also completed the Chivilingo hydro station. After the turn of the century, however, power developments in the region remained small, local concerns until the arrival of Santiago-based holding company CGEI. To move into the southern markets, CGEI  47–48. See also Recart Novión, El Laja, 137–52; Sergio Villalobos, ed., Historia de la ingeniería en Chile (Santiago, Chile: Hachette, 1990), 201–4. 10 The canal’s official history does not address the dominance of local elites, although the power dynamics of rural society are well documented in Chilean historiography. See, e.g., Brian Loveman, Struggle in the Countryside: Politics and Rural Labor in Chile, 1919-1973 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976). I base this specific assertion on more recent scholarship on irrigators in central Chile in the 1980s and 1990s. Bauer, Against the Current, 67–68, 86. A brief biography of Rioseco, written by his granddaughter, is found in González Abuter, Canalistas del Laja, 50–52. 11 The Zañartu Canal is the second largest in terms of irrigated hectares, followed by numerous smaller networks. Each network draws water from its own headgate, which usually feeds into a single main canal. 12 Joseph H. Butler, “Manufacturing in the Concepción Region of Chile: Present Position and Prospects for Future Development” (PhD dissertation, New York, Columbia University, 1960), 11–13; Whaley, “Transportation,” 12. 45    first founded a municipal system in Chillán in 1908 and then purchased the utility companies in Concepción and Los Ángeles in the early 1920s. Following these acquisitions, the company began planning to interconnect the three urban centers in a grid powered by a new hydroelectric plant, using the steam plant in Concepción as a backup generator. It appears that CGEI aimed, over the long run, to bring these properties into a single network stretching from Buin (just outside of Santiago) to Valdivia in the southern frontier region. Initially, CGEI expanded the Concepción steam plant, secured water rights on the Bío-Bío and began eying projects on the Itata and Laja rivers. However, the Great Depression ended those plans, and no regional networks or major hydro projects materialized in the province during the 1930s.13 The State in the Upper Basin At the end of the 1930s, less than 100 years after the last major eruptions by Antuco had enlarged the lake, a new generation of Chilean engineers in the employ of the state began to travel to the upper Laja. By this time, the upper basin and the lake were considered a hinterland region, occupied seasonally by farmers in the lower valleys to pasture livestock. The lake and upper basin are part of the ancestral territories of the indigenous group known as the Pehuenche, an area which extends to both sides of the southern cordillera with trade networks reaching far beyond. Pehuenche had lived and traveled in and around the Laja up until the mid-19th century, when military campaigns in Argentina and the Chilean state’s colonial resettlement policies forced the closest indigenous communities to move south.14 In the early 1900s, the Laja Valley was briefly considered for a trans-Andean railroad to Argentina, and several decades later an engineer investigated the lake for an irrigation reservoir. Neither project prospered.15 Just a few months after CORFO hydrologists and topographers began working on the national hydropower inventory, surveyors had already flagged sites on the upper Laja and the nearby Ñuble River as potential locations for plants to supply power to Concepción and the surrounding region.16 Later, the studies were expanded to include additional sites on the Laja and the upper Bío-Bío. In February 1940, the technical staff brought a list of possible locations before the Energy and Fuel Department’s technical energy committee, which included the top CORFO engineers working on electrification, as well as the head of the electricity services regulator and the director of the Irrigation Department in the Ministry of Development.17 After reviewing the options, the committee settled on the Laja River based on a mix of  13 Nazer Ahumada, Couyoumdjian, and Camus Gayan, CGE, 75–78, 101–8; ENDESA, 50 años, 47. 14 Raúl Molina and Martín Correa, Territorio y comunidades Pehuenches del Alto Bío-Bío, 2nd Ed. (Temuco, Chile: Corporación Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena, 1998), 11–12. For overviews of this usurpation and resettlement process, see Klubock, La Frontera, 31–40; José Bengoa, Historia del pueblo mapuche: siglo XIX y XX, 6th ed. (Santiago, Chile: LOM Ediciones, 2000), 354–62. 15 Leonardo Mazzei de Grazia, Estudios de historia económica regional del Biobío: 1800-1920 (Concepción, Chile: Ediciones del Archivo Histórico de Concepción, 2015), 203–9; “Don Luis Lagarrigue Alessandri recibió la medalla de honor del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile 1 (1938): 3–10. 16 CTE, Acta No. 13, 28 Dec. 1939, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. 17 The replacement for the Public Works Ministry from 1927-1942. 46    local and regional factors. The meeting minutes cite the lower cost per installed unit of power and larger production potential on the river as putting it ahead of the alternatives. They also highlight its “cleaner waters” (presumably referring to low sedimentation) and steadier flow, attributed to the natural regulation of the volcanic lake. Taking a broader perspective, the committee noted that the Laja River could support regional power development in the near and long term. It was close to large demand centers on the coast, where CORFO was considering emergency tie-ins with the private mine-mouth plants to provide backup power for CGEI’s Concepción system. Cheap energy from the Laja would also allow the mines to mechanize, which the committee hoped would avert the looming coal shortage. In the longer run, a substation midway along the transmission line from the upper Laja to Concepción would provide a node for future expansion along the north-south axis of the Central Valley.18 The day after the Laja studies were approved, the director of the Irrigation Department, Eduardo Reyes Cox, withdrew his support, citing his own orders to study the regulation of Laguna del Laja for irrigation purposes. Given the potential conflicts with power development, Reyes Cox explained at a meeting later that month, he would withhold judgment until further studies determined the feasibility of building a reservoir and clarified whether power generation interfered with downstream irrigation.19 At the time, his department was concerned with expanding irrigated farmlands to revitalize the agricultural sector so that it could meet internal demand, a recurring problem made worse by wartime shortages.20 It appears that the Irrigation Department was also concerned with the state of the existing networks on the Laja. As a later internal report noted, most water rights on the Laja had been issued by municipal authorities in Yumbel and Yungay, who based their decisions on soil permeability, rather than available streamflow in the river. As a result, the issued paper concessions far exceeded the Laja’s actual flow. Although not all of the rights were in use, the irrigation practices of farmers who did exploit their concessions were believed to be inefficient and wasteful.21 These problems had been brewing for some time. In the mid-1910s, the Laja Canal Association had warned that future conflicts might occur due to the confusing legal standing of water rights-holders in and around the canal network, and it later accused the government of delivering defective infrastructure that captured less water than it was designed for. During the 1930s and 1940s, the association became embroiled in a bitter dispute over water rights with the owner of the Santa Fe hacienda, which the Irrigation Department attempted to mediate from Santiago.22 Reyes Cox, for his part,  18 CTE, Acta No. 18, 15 Feb. 1940; Acta No. 19, 16 Feb. 1940, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. On the emergency tie-in, which was not completed until 1948, see CTE, Acta No. 7, 15 Feb. 1940, Op. Cit. 19 CTE, Acta No. 20, 21 Feb. 1940, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. 20 See Eduardo Reyes Cox, “Políticas agrarias,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 9 (1942): 285–87. 21 Departamento de Riego, “Hoya del río Laja,” n.d. but probably 1945-46, Fondo MOP, vol. 4368, ARNAD. See also Eduardo Reyes Cox to Gerente de la Corporación del Fomento de la Producción, “Informa solicitud de préstamo de la Asociación,” 30 Jan. 1940, Fondo DOH, vol. 269, ARNAD. 22 González Abuter, Canalistas del Laja, 45, 73–75, 78–80. See also the Laja materials in Fondo DOH, vols. 123, 269 and 339 at ARNAD. 47    had argued in the 1930s that the state needed to take stronger measures to enforce discipline among the canal associations and curtail water waste.23 At the February 1940 meeting, the technical committee agreed to order geological studies for the reservoir, but did not halt the evaluations of the Laja hydro projects. Concerns about upstream-downstream tensions resurfaced at later meetings. In November 1940, when CORFO planners recommended the run-of-river Abanico plant as the first project in the basin, Reyes Cox inquired again whether it would interfere with the regulation plans under consideration by his department. Reinaldo Harnecker, who oversaw the studies conducted by CORFO’s technical staff, explained that since Abanico was sited several kilometers upriver from the first canal headgates, it would not cause any problems. Harnecker further promised that power production would remain subordinate to irrigation in any future projects near the lake outlet.24 At the time, the disparate rules and laws governing water rights in Chile were not systematized under a single code, and legally there was no order of priority for different water uses.25 Still, Harnecker repeated his assurances to Reyes Cox a year later when the committee was reviewing construction blueprints for Abanico, claiming that the matter of irrigation’s prioritization was “beyond question” as far as state power projects were concerned.26 While this claim seems to derive from a genuine belief that downstream uses could be respected, it is debatable whether power production ever truly took a backseat to other water uses. As we saw in the previous chapter, since the 1930s Harnecker and other Chilean boosters of electrification had warned of a looming power supply crisis that demanded immediate action. At the early meetings on the Laja developments, CORFO planners repeatedly noted the urgent need for power in the coal regions near Concepción. The preoccupation with power shortages likely explains why the committee did not pause or rethink the Laja studies after Reyes Cox first voiced his concerns about irrigation, which were absent from previous discussions of the river. The subsequent shipping delays of imported equipment and machinery from the United States, due to the mounting war effort in the north, likely added to a sense of urgency and heightened concerns with falling behind schedule.27 From the boosters’ perspective, it was also imperative to keep the price of electricity as low as possible to stimulate new energy demand and facilitate industrialization. In this regard, it seems they were unwilling to use revenues from electricity  23 Eduardo Reyes Cox, “El regadío en el país,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 9 (1936): 361–71. 24 CTE, Acta No. 41, 25 Nov. 1940; Acta No. 42, 27 Nov. 1940, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. 25 The 1951 Water Code established an order of preferred uses, mainly for adjudicating competing water rights applications, that placed irrigation ahead of power generation. Subsequent codes dismantled this order. See Bauer, Against the Current, 38, 47.  26 CTE, Acta No. 67, 4 Dec. 1941, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. 27 CPEC, Acta No. 2, 24 Jan. 1941, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5052, ARNAD. 48    production to subsidize rural development. In 1942, for example, CORFO sought to kill a bill in the Congress that proposed taxing hydro plants to finance a general fund for irrigation.28 Transforming Laguna del Laja into a reservoir was also desirable from the standpoint of energy production since regulating the river would increase the flow in the plants downriver. Harnecker himself was already familiar with the lake’s regulation potential. In December 1938, he sent two of his students from the University of Chile to conduct a survey of the upper Laja to identify potential hydro sites and evaluate the feasibility of damming the lake outlet. The three-week trip overlapped with the Chillán earthquake in January 1939, which seemed to have shortened the study. Nonetheless, the students completed fieldwork for a rockfill dam at the lava barrier and a 160 MW power station connected to the lake via a four-kilometer tunnel, described in two theses published in 1941 and 1942.29 The pair was followed by CORFO hydrologists in 1939. In 1941, the corporation also hired renowned Chilean-German geologist Juan Brüggen (né Johannes) to study Laja’s geological history.30 As many of these early studies noted, the natural regulation of the Laguna del Laja was due to the steady filtration of water through underground channels in the porous lava barrier. When the lake rose during the spring and summer snowmelt, however, water topped the barrier for several months, augmenting the subterranean flow.31 It was also determined that the porosity varied at different depths, corresponding to lava flows that constituted distinct layers in the barrier. Given this structural complexity, Harnecker’s students reasoned that it would be challenging, if not impossible, to control the outflow completely. Instead, they proposed building a small dam at the top of the barrier to contain the summer overflow, as well as a small portion of the water filtrations. Changes in the lake level also affected the rate of subterranean discharge, which had implications for the reservoir’s size. The greater the volume of the lake, the greater the hydrostatic pressure forcing water through the lower sections of the lava barrier. The students proposed an intermediate height for the dam, which they estimated would keep the fluctuations in the subterranean discharge within an acceptable range.32 Many of these ideas and preoccupations would eventually make their way into the final designs used to regulate the lake just a few years later.  28 The engineers from the Irrigation Department also opposed the tax. See CTE, Acta No. 101, 26 Oct. 1942, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5077, ARNAD. For a similar case involving taxes on electricity production, see CPEC, Acta No. 25, 31 Jan. 1940, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5052, ARNAD. 29 The outline for the original thesis project, dated 26 Dec. 1938, is found in Darío Rodríguez Puratich, “Central hidroeléctrica Laguna del Laja” (Memoria de prueba para optar al título de ingeniero civil, Santiago, Chile, Universidad de Chile, 1941), 3–5, BC-FCFM. See also Sergio Rivera Acevedo, “Central hidroeléctrica Laguna del Laja” (Memoria de prueba para optar al título de ingeniero civil, Santiago, Chile, Universidad de Chile, 1942), BC-FCFM. 30 Juan Brüggen, “Informe geológico sobre el canal de fuerza del río Laja,” 24 April 1941, Fondo DOH, vol. 467, ARNAD. See also Brüggen, “El volcán Antuco.” 31 In addition to the studies cited in the previous two notes, see Departamento de Riego, “Hoya del río Laja.” 32 Rodríguez Puratich, “Central hidroeléctrica Laguna del Laja,” 16, 46–49. 49    The First Multi-Use Agreement Ultimately, CORFO decided to take over the reservoir’s development from the Irrigation Department. At several meetings in December 1941, members of the technical staff proposed this plan to Reyes Cox, explaining that they would design the reservoir to accommodate the Irrigation Department’s future plans in the basin, whatever they might be.33 Offering his usual assurances about prioritizing irrigation, Harnecker also noted that CORFO would shoulder part of the investment in the reservoir, reducing the financial burden for the Irrigation Department. The terms satisfied Reyes Cox, who accepted the proposal without any objections.34 Harnecker also offered to write the irrigation priority into Abanico’s operating concession, and it indeed appeared in the 1942 decree granting the concession to CORFO, along with the rights to withdraw up to 47 m3/s from the river at the plant’s diversion canal.35  The paperwork submitted for the 1942 concession made no mention of expanding the 55 MW Abanico’s generation capacity, although at the December 1941 meetings the engineers had explained that the plant could be modified later to take in more water, should regulation of the Laja prove feasible.36 Toward the end of 1943, however, CORFO technicians, accompanied by a team of U.S. consultants, visited Concepción to scout locations for a steel mill near the port in Talcahuano.37 They also traveled to the Abanico construction site. The mill, it was hoped, would act as a base load client for the plant while diverting new demand from the overtaxed systems around Santiago.38 While a final investment decision on the mill (Chile’s first) was still several years off, the Energy Department expedited its plans to modify Abanico after the visit by the consultants. In November, Guillermo Moore, the department’s head, requested additional funding from CORFO to increase the capacity of the diversion canal’s intake immediately. The steelworks significantly altered CORFO’s demand forecast for the region, he explained, and the previously tentative expansion was now necessary and urgent.39 It is unclear if CORFO had completed the reservoir studies by this time, but the new design for Abanico anticipated nearly doubling its original capacity and thus required more water.  33 CTE, Acta No. 67; CTE, Acta No. 68, 11 Dec. 1941, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. 34 As noted in Chapter 2, the Irrigation Department had independently been studying several large hydro stations for basin development schemes since late 1938. Initially, it was understood that CORFO would focus on smaller hydro plants to cover short-term demand. By 1943, however, the department had handed off its portfolio of projects to CORFO’s Energy Department, whose personnel would soon transfer over to ENDESA. For discussions of this initial division of responsibilities, see CTE, Acta No. 2, 6 Nov. 1939; Acta No. 11, 15 Dec. 1939, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5053, ARNAD. 35 Ministerio del Interior, Decreto No. 2582, 6 May 1942, Fondo MI, vol. 10569, ARNAD. The formal request appears to have come from the Dirección General de Obras Públicas, which oversaw the Irrigation Department. See Domingo Santa María Sánchez to Ministro del Interior, “Informa merced de agua y concesión definitiva para central ‘El Abanico,’” 29 April 1942, Fondo MI, vol. 10569, ARNAD. 36 Reinaldo Harnecker, “Anexo No. 2: Central hidroeléctrica ‘Abanico’ en el río Laja Alto. Memoria descriptiva,” 29 Nov. 1940, Fondo MI, vol. 10569, ARNAD. 37 CPEC, Acta No. 41, 26 Oct. 1943, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5076, ARNAD. 38 Antonia Echenique C. and Concepción Rodríguez G., Historia de la Compañía de Acero del Pacífico S.A. – Huachipato: consolidación del proceso siderúrgico chileno: 1905-1950 (Santiago, Chile: Impresora y Editora Ograma S.A., 1990), 170–71. 39 CPEC, Acta No. 45, 23 Nov. 1943, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5076, ARNAD. As recently as February 1943, the reservoir was still seen as a longer-term project. See CTE, Acta No. 110, 3 Feb. 1943, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5077, ARNAD. 50    As work on Abanico progressed, representatives of the Laja Canal Association, having gotten wind of the project, wrote to Reyes Cox in January 1944, concerned that their rights to the Laja’s waters were under threat. In their letter, they observed that a hydroelectric plant needed water flowing (corrientes de agua) year round, especially in the winter, which they feared would diminish flow during the growing season.40 Reyes Cox responded in early March, echoing the explanations given to him by CORFO: The first plant would not interfere with the river’s flow regime, and future projects would prioritize irrigation over power.41 Despite these assurances, downstream users remained wary. The internal study prepared by the Irrigation Department several years later reported persistent concerns among farmers that a new power station sited upstream from Abanico would obstruct their access to water. It appears the study was requested just before the department’s director signed the first multi-use agreement for the Laguna del Laja in June 1946. Its authors reiterated the economic importance of agriculture and the need to prioritize farmers’ water rights, but they also acknowledged that those concerns had to be balanced against the industrial uses of the Laja. The desire to harmonize those two uses, as well as placate concerned famers and resolve the confusing legal status of water rights in the basin, all appear to have influenced the department’s decision to sign the multi-use agreement.42 By this time, ENDESA had taken over the Laja’s development, and CORFO’s technical energy committee had ceased to exist, ending a regular forum for communication between irrigation and energy planners. Per the terms of the multi-use agreement, ENDESA would build and manage the reservoir and ensure that downstream users received at least 90 m3/s during the peak irrigation months in the summer. The 90 m3/s, measured at a stream gauge near Tucapel, was destined for some 90,000 hectares – that is, at a rate of 1 m3/s per 1,000 hectares. The per-hectare rate and peak flow volume were below the total  water rights granted on paper and the Irrigation Department’s estimates of actual usage rates. From the department’s perspective, however, reducing the legal volume eliminated unused concessions and instilled some discipline among irrigators. Moreover, since 90 m3/s was more than what the existing canals could reliably expect in the summer, irrigators were getting a better deal than their current circumstances.43 It was also hoped that the arrangement would put to rest farmers’ concerns about the upstream hydro developments, or as one government official put it in 1947, “render their objections baseless.”44  40 Nemoroso Barrueto and A. Mellado to Director del Departamento de Riego, 18 Jan. 1944, Fondo DOH, vol. 269, ARNAD. 41 Eduardo Reyes Cox to Nemoroso Barrueto, 6 March 1944, Fondo DOH, vol. 269, ARNAD. 42 Departamento de Riego, “Hoya del río Laja.” For a copy of the agreement, see Miguel Montalva and Guillermo Moore, “Convenio sobre regulación del río Laja entre el Departamento de Riego de la Dirección General de Obras Públicas y la Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A.,” 18 June 1946, Fondo MOP, vol. 4368, ARNAD. 43 Departamento de Riego, “Hoya del río Laja.” It is not clear what happened to the unused paper water rights. 44 It is not clear whether the objections alluded to in the quote were related to Abanico or to another plant proposed on the Laja, but it seems likely to be the former. Oscar Tenhamm V. to Director General de Servicios Eléctricos, “Sobre Merced de Agua a la ENDESA para Central ‘Abanico’ en el río Laja,” 8 Jan. 1947, Fondo DOH, vol. 454, ARNAD. See also Departamento de Riego, “Hoya del río Laja.” 51    Under the agreement, the Irrigation Department would monitor ENDESA’s administration of the reservoir and enforce its obligations on behalf of the irrigators, who were not allowed to participate directly as signatories. Another clause set aside a share in the future reservoir for new irrigation networks on the Laja, allowing the Irrigation Department to request up to an additional 60 m3/s on top of the 90 m3/s guaranteed in the summer. ENDESA was to finance the full cost of the reservoir at first; when the department decided to make use of its share, it would have to buy into the project and compensate ENDESA. Although using the reservoir share was ultimately the government’s prerogative, it quickly sparked local interest. Around September 1946, the Laja Canal’s chief engineer brought to the government a proposal for a second main canal to supply up to 22,000 hectares. Officials at the Irrigation Department told their superiors that they would consider the proposal within their own plans, which they had postponed pending the completion of more urgent projects.45 Several years later, as Abanico was coming online, a congressional deputy from Bío-Bío Province called on the government to fund irrigation projects along the Laja to exploit the natural reservoir “gifted by Providence.”46 Working on Abanico in the upper basin, ENDESA encountered few problems with locals. Cordial relations with landowners permitted surveyors to forego the provisional concession normally required in the exploratory stages of power projects. The powerhouse and canal were sited on the Laja’s northern bank on a hacienda owned by the private forestry company Comunidad Irarrázabal y Larraín, one of the region’s largest landholders.47 The Comunidad sold the land to ENDESA and also supplied lumber for temporary worker housing built near the construction site.48 After construction got underway, however, the area’s remoteness contributed to discipline problems among the workers. Following pleas from the contractor hired to build the diversion canal, the Ministry of the Interior banned alcohol sales in the valley in February 1944.49 Afterwards, shop owners and residents of Polcura, a town at the western end of the river valley, sent a letter to the ministry requesting an exemption or, failing that, a temporary moratorium on the ban. The owners feared they would lose clientele from the worksite to the larger town of Antuco, which fell outside of the “dry zone.”50 Their request was ignored, and the alcohol ban remained in effect  45 Oscar Tenhamm V. to Director General de Obras Públicas, “Regadío con un canal derivado del Laja,” 20 Sept. 1946, Fondo DOH, vol. 339, ARNAD. 46 Cámara de Diputados, Diario de Sesiones, Sesión 10ª Extraordinaria, 18 May 1948, 303–5. 47 Domingo Santa María Sánchez to Ministro del Interior, “Informa merced.” For background on the Comunidad, see Klubock, La Frontera, 129–30, 170–71. 48 CPEC, Acta No. 33, 18 Aug. 1942, Fondo CORFO, vol. 5076, ARNAD. 49 The contractor was also concerned about the presence of union organizers. The government opted not to intervene in this matter, and a union was officially recognized in April 1944. Eduardo Necochea Nebel to Gabriel Cristi, 29 Oct. 1943, and Eduardo Necochea Nebel to Gabriel Cristi, 8 Dec. 1943, Fondo MI, vol. 11248, ARNAD; Ministerio de Interior, Decreto No. 873, 26 Feb. 1944, Op. Cit. On the union’s formation, see Ministerio de Justicia, Decreto No. 1324, 3 April 1944, Fondo MJ, vol. 6137, ARNAD. 50 Various authors, “Señor Ministro del Interior,” n.d. but probably July 1944, Fondo MI, vol. 11248, ARNAD. 52    until 1948. Around that time, another letter from Polcura reached the ministry, claiming that the local economy was in ruins.51 Electrifying the Greater Bío-Bío Region Even before it was energized, the Abanico network was incorporated into the electrification plan’s seven electrical regions, officially tying the Laja River and, inadvertently, the farmers in the basin to a national project. Abanico’s immediate service area was Region 4, encompassing the provinces of Concepción, Bío-Bío, Ñuble, Malleco and Arauco.52 Following the steps outlined in the previous chapter, Abanico was to develop initially as a regional system, attending to local demand in the five provinces. Over time, as ENDESA built out inter-ties with other systems, Region 4 would become a key component in the central grid. With the mixed hydrological regimes of its rivers, the region was seen as a transitional zone between the glacier-fed rivers of Region 3 and the rain-fed rivers of Region 5. The storage capacity of Laguna del Laja would eventually expand this role assigned to the greater Bío-Bío region within the larger electrical system. In the 1940s, however, the plan’s authors deemed the storage potential in Region 4 as good but not exceptional, at least in comparison to sites farther south that they believed to hold more promise.53 Electricity from the Abanico system was expected to stimulate the light manufacturing sector around Concepción, which mostly sold goods to consumers in Santiago. Despite an incipient industrialization dating to the late 1800s and the arrival of CGEI in the 1920s, power development in the greater Bío-Bío region severely lagged behind central Chile. In 1940, the installed capacity in Region 4 amounted to just 35 MW, compared to 217 MW in Region 3, which included Santiago.54 Unlike the regional grid that had emerged around the capital, the Bío-Bío power systems remained confined to urban areas or to industrial establishments with on-site generators. Moreover, most local systems burned coal for steam power; less than 3 MW of hydropower operated in Region 4 at the start of the decade. After visiting Laja in 1939, one of Harnecker’s students observed that an insufficient and costly energy supply had stymied the area’s vast agricultural and industrial potential. The remedy, of course, was abundant and cheap hydroelectricity.55 As CORFO’s planners had feared, wartime shortages, shipping delays and other setbacks slowed work on Abanico. The first generator at the plant did not start producing energy until May 1948, several years behind schedule. For the initial system, a 154 kV trunk line cut west to a substation in Concepción, where CGEI’s steam plant provided reserve power, while a 66 kV line also brought the steam plant at the Schwager coal mine onto the system. As planned, ENDESA built a substation midway along the trunk  51 Various authors. “Solicitan se derogue el decreto que declara ‘zona seca’ este pueblo,” 8 Aug. 1948, Fondo MI, vol. 12654, ARNAD. 52 Region 4 would today encompass the Bío-Bío and Ñuble regions, as well as the northern half of the Araucanía Region. In this chapter, I use the “greater Bío-Bío region” and “Region 4” as interchangeable territorial units, even though the usage may be imprecise or anachronistic at times. 53 CORFO, Plan de electrificación, 60–61. 54 ENDESA, “Producción y consumo de energía en Chile 1986” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., n.d.), 75–79, BN-MC. 55 Rodríguez Puratich, “Central hidroeléctrica Laguna del Laja,” 7–8. 53    line near the Charrúa train station. From there, the system branched out to urban networks in Chillán and Los Ángeles during the 1950s. As the system expanded, ENDESA’s work crews cleared trees and crossed private property, forcing the company to negotiate rights of way with landowners. As the local forestry sector had been flourishing since the 1930s, pine trees were highly valued and often used to calculate compensation. ENDESA was usually willing to settle claims to economic damages, but often brushed aside health and safety concerns. Based on reports by the electricity regulator, objections to transmission projects were rare. For example, the 152-kilometer route of the Abanico-Concepción line crossed more than 280 properties, of which only five filed formal objections.56 The tenor of ENDESA’s interactions with landowners is difficult to deduce from the reports, but it is likely that negotiations were lopsided against the latter, except in the case of large, politically connected estates. On the Abanico-Concepción line, ENDESA conceded only one modification to the route to avoid crossing a large pine plantation owned by the Comunidad Irarrázabal y Larraín, which was demanding a hefty sum to clear a large swath of trees for the power line corridor.57 After 1948, ENDESA installed three more units at Abanico in quick succession. Shortly after the plant started operating, however, serious design flaws in the diversion canal, which was built along a steep hillside, led to frequent landslides that muddied the water and damaged the turbine rotor blades. To remedy the problem, repair crews worked on the canal over several years, “battling against the hillside” to contain the debris.58 By the end of the 1940s, ENDESA had fully incorporated the lake reservoir into its development plans, which entailed building two more plants upstream from Abanico and a fourth downstream, near the town of Antuco. To expand the reservoir, these plans also called for tunneling under a mountain chain to divert water from the upper basin of the Polcura River, a large tributary of the Laja, into an outlet on the lake’s northern shore. The development plans sought to establish a hydraulic series, in which water passed through the first plant via a tunnel connected to the lake, then through a second plant just below the outlet, then through Abanico, and finally through the fourth plant at Antuco. The reservoir, for its part, would be built in two stages – first, a provisional canal and barrier at the lake outlet to capture the summer spillage, permitting the regulation of up to 600 million m3; then, the deeper intake tunnel from the lake to the first plant, increasing the regulated water volume to at least 2.2 billion m3.59 Since it was impossible to barricade the outlet completely, the “reservoir” was in fact the lake’s upper layer, with the intake tunnel marking an imaginary boundary between “useful” water on the top and the  56 Director General de Servicios Eléctricos to Ministro del Interior, “Informa concesión definitiva para línea de transmisión de energía eléctrica Abanico-Concepción,” 5 Oct. 1944, Fondo MI, vol. 11345, ARNAD. 57 Director General de Servicios Eléctricos to Ministro del Interior, “Informa modificación trazado línea Abanico-Concepción,” 25 May 1945, Fondo MI, vol. 11513, ARNAD. It is unclear if ENDESA compensated all property owners or only those who requested it formally. 58 ENDESA, 50 años, 49; “En Chacay el año solo tiene seis meses,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 11, April 1954. 59 Raúl Sáez S., “Informe: Sistema hidroeléctrico del Río Laja,” 18 April 1949, Fondo DOH, vol. 454, ARNAD; Reinaldo Harnecker to Miguel Montalva, “Desarrollo hidroeléctrico de la hoya del Río Laja,” 3 May 1949, Op. Cit. 54    unregulated lower depths. In reality, the upper reservoir experienced near constant attrition as water escaped through the subterranean channels. Under the 1946 multi-use agreement, a lower reserve of 800 million m3 was set aside exclusively for irrigation on existing and new cropland in the river basin. This “cushion” (colchón) corresponded to a cross-section of the lake measured upward from the future intake tunnel.60 When the agreement was signed, the Irrigation Department’s engineers predicted that ENDESA would not let the reservoir dip below the reserve cushion as it would put the first plant in the series out of service. It would also force the second plant in the series to operate below capacity since, by design, it depended on the discharge from the first for most of its water. These operating principles for power production, they reasoned, guaranteed that water would always be held in reserve for irrigators.61  Work on the provisional regulation project began almost immediately. By 1953-54, ENDESA had completed an arch dam, carved out a spillway on the upper lava barrier at the lake and installed a sluice gate, capturing the summer overflow and allowing ENDESA to ramp up Abanico’s capacity to 86MW, which was by then operating with four generation units. The steel mill had come online in 1950 and immediately put new pressure on the system. The mill contracted directly with ENDESA, buying power at below-market rates until 1953 to facilitate its entry into the steel market.62 By 1956, it had become ENDESA’s largest revenue source on the Abanico system and in 1960 accounted for nearly 25% of all electricity consumption in Region 4.63 At the end of the 1950s, rapid industrial growth, coupled with rising urban demand in Concepción, raised concerns that the Abanico system would soon experience blackouts.64 A burgeoning hub of ancillary industrial activities had sprung up around the steelworks, while a pulp mill and newsprint plant appeared farther inland along the Bío-Bío River, sourcing wood from nearby tree plantations. In 1956, ENDESA’s general manager estimated that supply constraints in Region 4 had resulted in 33 MW of rejected or deferred demand.65 CGEI’s consumer market in Concepción had also grown rapidly since the utility started receiving power from Abanico. Between 1947 and 1960, the urban system increased its client base by 90% to 33,340 customers, while peak load tripled to 31 MW (similar growth occurred in Chillán and  60 See Cláusula 5ª in Montalva and Guillermo Moore, “Convenio sobre regulación.” 61 Departamento de Riego, “Hoya del río Laja.” 62 Reinaldo Harnecker to Carlos Vial Infante, “Exposición de antecedentes relacionados con el contrato de suministro de energía eléctrica a la Fábrica Nacional de Carburo y Metalurgia S.A,” 1 Jan. 1957, SM-AA 26, BN-AA. 63 For revenue figures, see Gustavo Lira Manso to Ministro del Interior, “Informa tarifas Sistema Abanico de Endesa,” 21 Dec. 1957, Fondo MI, vol. 16671, ARNAD. The 1960 consumption figure is estimated by comparing national steel industry demand against total consumption in Region 4. ENDESA, “Producción y consumo de energía en Chile 1961” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., n.d.), 21, 39, BCN-ED. 64 Butler, “Manufacturing in Concepción,” 56; IBRD, “Technical Report on Chemical Pulp and Newsprint Mills in Chile,” Technical Operations Projects Series (Washington, DC: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1953), 5. 65 A translated memo from the director of ENDESA is reprinted in Economic Commission for Latin America and Food and Agriculture Organization, “Chile: Potential Pulp and Paper Exporter” (Santiago, Chile: United Nations, 1957), 103–10. See also ENDESA, Plan de electrificación, 2nda, 233. 55    Los Ángeles).66 The utility had quickly become entirely dependent on ENDESA for power. Into the 1950s, ENDESA also had to contend with rampant inflation as consecutive governments printed money to pay for industrialization and social programs, which affected the company’s ability to execute new projects. Between 1952 and 1959, ENDESA applied for at least five rate increases on the Abanico system, and executives publicly complained about the slow review process under the electricity services law, which was eventually amended in 1959.67 As coastal urban and industrial areas placed more demand on the nascent system, the Irrigation Department had begun to re-evaluate the water needs of new canal networks in the Laja Basin. A clause in the 1946 agreement allowed either party to request revisions to expand the reservoir, which the department opted to do in the late 1950s. The department’s director and Reinaldo Harnecker, by this time ENDESA’s general manager, eventually signed an updated multi-use agreement on Oct. 24, 1958.68 The new reservoir was to have a minimum volume of 4 billion m3, achieved by installing a deeper intake tunnel on the lakebed. The revised accord maintained many of the administrative rules from the previous agreement, as well as ENDESA’s seasonal obligations to supply water for the 90,000 hectares of irrigated farmland. The Irrigation Department could now request up to 65 m3/s for any new canals built in the basin. This was only a marginal increase from the 1946 accord, likely because the original reservoir designs underestimated water needs of new canals.69 The 1958 revisions also fleshed out the rules and accounting mechanisms for administering the reservoir, which included a banking system where ENDESA and the Irrigation Department could “save” surplus water for later use.70 The result was a complicated and often confusing set of rules based on incomplete data. For example, ENDESA’s obligation to cover deficits at existing irrigation canals in the summer was capped at 47 m3/s, the same volume allocated to Abanico. This figure was based on the annual “natural” discharge of the unregulated subterranean outlets, an estimate derived from only a few years of recorded streamflow in the 1940s. If some of the new rules were vague, it was in part a deliberate choice because of the still incomplete reservoir design. As the agreement itself noted, ENDESA had yet to decide the exact depth of the intake tunnel, which determined the partitions for the reserve cushions.71 More importantly, the company was just starting the definitive studies for the next power project on upper Laja, which underwent substantial  66 Figures for Concepción are found in Nazer Ahumada, Couyoumdjian, and Camus Gayan, CGE, 216. 67 For rate increases on the Abanico system, see Decretos 5727, 43, 2402, 4117 and 1425 in, respectively, Fondo MI, vols. 15074, 16032, 16671, 16731 and 16939, ARNAD. For complaints by management, see ENDESA, Memoria y Balance General, years 1955-57; Reinaldo Harnecker, “Comunicación del Gerente General al Personal de la Endesa,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 43, January 1958. 68 Reinaldo Harnecker and Dionisio Retamal López, “Convenio ad-referéndum sobre la regulación del Río Laja,” 24 Oct. 1958, Fondo MOP, vol, 6015, ARNAD. 69 Dionisio Retamal López to Ministro de Obras Públicas, “EMBALSE LAGO LAJA. Solicita aprobación de convenio ad-referendum sobre regularización del río Laja con la ENDESA,” 27 Oct. 1958, Fondo MOP, vol. 6015, ARNAD. 70 The 1946 accord also discusses water banking, although in very vague terms. 71 See Cláusula 11ª in Harnecker and Retamal López, “Convenio ad-referéndum.” 56    revisions the following decade. In 1959, when ENDESA applied for provisional water rights for the next phase of regulation, it listed the “Laguna Laja” power station, with a projected capacity of 250 MW, as next in line after Abanico’s final expansion.72 As outlined in earlier plans, this station was sited on the northern riverbank and connected directly to the lake via a diversion tunnel. However, the volcanic terrain near the outlet proved troublesome. By the early 1960s, ENDESA engineers had realized that the proposed route for the diversion tunnel cut across a deep gorge. Rerouting the tunnel to avoid the gorge would nearly double its length.73 Subsequent studies identified an alternative site on the lower section of the Polcura River, several kilometers above its confluence with the Laja. The alternative, known as El Toro, disrupted the hydraulic series in previous plans. It was located downriver from Abanico and would transform the latter into a peaking plant operating at half capacity. It also reduced the water available for the second plant in the original hydraulic series, which was eventually abandoned. The redesign further entailed splitting the subterranean diversion into two separate projects: a short tunnel near the outlet and a nearly nine-kilometer tunnel under mountains that separated the Polcura River from the Laguna del Laja. Offsetting all these disruptive changes, however, was El Toro’s improved efficiency. Its plant head of 610 meters, compared to the Laguna Laja station’s 360 meters, nearly doubled the energy utility of water in the reservoir. ENDESA engineers calculated that the redesigned Laja system, with three plants instead of four, could generate up to 4,000 MWh/year, versus the 2,500 MWh/year estimated in earlier studies.74 Producing more energy at a lower cost, a guiding principle since the early days of the electrification plan, trumped any other engineering concerns. Diverging Development Paths  Funding from the multilateral lender IBRD helped ENDESA to install the fifth and sixth generation turbines at Abanico in 1959, raising its installed capacity to 135 MW. In 1963, the company completed the first diversion tunnel on the lake, increasing the regulated volume to 4 billion m3 and permitting Abanico to operate at its maximum installed capacity. Using the tunnel, ENDESA also manipulated the lake level to better understand how it influenced the rate of seepage at the lava barrier.75 As this occurred, the Laja and its reservoir acquired an increasing level of importance within larger plans for electrification and for the Chilean economy in general. Already by the mid-1950s, a revised electrification plan described Region 4’s storage potential in somewhat more favorable terms compared to the earlier  72 Ministerio de Obras Públicas, Decreto No. 1951, 16 Sept. 1959, Fondo MOP, vol. 6129, ARNAD. 73 Luis Court M., “Aprovechamiento hidroeléctrico del río Laja: central El Toro,” in Charlas – 9a. reunión anual de la división hidrología, ed. ENDESA (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., 1964), 7: 1–20. 74 Court M., “Aprovechamiento Hidroeléctrico,” passim; Sáez S., “Informe.” See also Renato E. Salazar to Presidente de la República and Gobernación de Yungay, “Solicita cambio merced de agua de la Central Lago Laja a la Central El Toro,” n.d. but probably March 1963, Fondo MOP, vol. 6631, ARNAD. 75 Court M., 7: 3. 57    edition.76 The following decade, the industrial hub at Concepción, which added a new blast furnace at the steel mill along with an oil refinery, exerted additional pressure for the regional power system to expand. In 1964, the head engineer for El Toro explained that concerns about a supply deficit in Region 4 had convinced ENDESA planners to target the Laja Basin for the next phase of development, as it was the closest site to the demand center around Concepción.77 At the time, ENDESA was focused on completing the 350 MW Rapel arch dam near Santiago, Chile’s first truly large-scale hydro project. The Laja complex was to be the next, even more ambitious project. The company newsletter proclaimed that the upper Laja was on track to becoming Chile’s most important “hydroelectric center,” and that El Toro would absorb future power deficits.78 The head engineer went so far as to claim that regulating the lake would make it “practically independent” from the annual hydrological cycle.79  El Toro was sited on the eastern side of the Polcura River’s narrow valley. An unstable layer of gravel and soil on the valley wall made it necessary to locate the powerhouse and penstocks in a subterranean cavern excavated from the hillside.80 Work began in the latter half of the 1960s and continued into the administration of Salvador Allende (1970-73). As Chile fell into a spiral of political and economic turmoil in the lead-up to the 1973 military coup, work on El Toro continued to advance, supported by a line of credit from the Central Bank and funds left over from another US$60 million IBRD loan issued in 1966.81 El Toro’s turbines started spinning in 1973 and were fully operational by 1974, only a year behind schedule. The upper Polcura diversion, however, fell behind schedule and was not finished until 1977, due to union conflicts, a contractor dispute, and design flaws in the tunnel blueprint. While work at the lake continued apace in the 1960s and 1970s, plans for new irrigation canals languished. After signing the 1958 agreement, the Irrigation Department devised an ambitious “Plan Laja” to stimulate agricultural production in the lower basin, which contained extensive fields of rich sandy volcanic soil that lay fallow for lack of irrigation. The principal project in the plan was the Laja Sur Canal, which would water an area bordered by the Laja to the north and the Bío-Bío to the south. A second canal under consideration would withdraw water from the northern bank of the Laja and transfer it into the neighboring basin of the Itata River.82 It seems as though the completion of the first diversion  76 ENDESA, Plan de electrificación, 2nda, 86. 77 Court M., “Aprovechamiento hidroeléctrico,” 7: 6-7. In an ultimately unsuccessful bid to revive the struggling coal industry, congress also forced ENDESA to build a 125 MW coal-fired plant near Concepción, completed in 1970. ENDESA, 50 años, 84–85. 78 “Producción de nueva central El Toro absorberá futuros déficit [sic] eléctricos,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 114, February-March 1964; “Inyección de agua al Lago Laja permitirá que El Toro sea la mayor central del país,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 116, Mayo 1964; “Zona del río Laja se transformará en el más importante centro hidroeléctrico,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 121, October 1964. All cited in Sergio Sepúlveda G. and Miguel Morales, “Bibliografía geográfica chilena 1964,” Investigaciones Geográficas, no. 15 (1965): 93–168.  79 Court M., “Aprovechamiento hidroeléctrico,” 7: 1. 80 Court M., 7: 10–12. 81 ENDESA, 50 años, 87. 82 Dirección de Riego, “Canal Laja Sur: descripción de la obra y estudio agroeconómico del proyecto” (Santiago, Chile: Ministerio de Obras Públicas, December 1964), DOH-AT. The Plan Laja is also discussed in Evanán Alvarado Montero, “Estudio de las posibilidades de liberar 58    tunnel spurred the Irrigation Department to advance its plans for the basin. A preliminary study in November 1963 described the tunnel as “fundamental” for downstream irrigation. By this time, the department’s staff were aware of the changes to ENDESA’s plans in the Upper Laja, but their reports did not show any signs of concern that El Toro’s construction might interfere with the broader aims of the 1958 agreement. To the contrary, they speculated that multi-use development in the region would reduce the cost of irrigation, allowing for the incorporation of additional areas under future canal networks.83 Around this time, a major study of Chile’s water resources, coordinated by the regional U.N. agency CEPAL (based in Santiago), sounded one of the first official warnings about the potential for multi-use water conflicts. Curiously, the 1960 report’s authors singled out as especially problematic the natural Andean reservoirs to the east of the Central Valley, a topography which favored building dam reservoirs upstream from irrigated farmlands. They even used the Laguna del Laja project as an example of the incompatible demand curves for electricity and irrigation, illustrating the same seasonal conflict that the Laja Canal Association had inquired about in the 1940s (see Figure 4 at the end of this chapter).84 These same observations were repeated in another major water study published in the late 1960s.85 It is unclear if the decision-makers behind the Plan Laja heeded these warnings, or if they were even aware of them (although that would have been unusual). Regardless, the plan did not advance during the 1960s. On the face of it, and according to congressional speeches by local politicians, the delays were due to a lack of funding, although the exact causes are unclear.86 A 1964 feasibility study for the Laja Sur Canal recommended that the Irrigation Department seek out international sources of financing, which may have proved difficult.87 At the time, the department was also completing the second phase of the Bío-Bío Sur Canal to irrigate a large area located in a neighboring basin. Whatever the reasons, the Plan Laja remained in limbo up to 1973, after which the military government definitively halted financing for large irrigation projects.88 Parallel to these developments, the users of the Laja Canal were becoming increasingly concerned about the secondary network’s deterioration, as well as persistent technical problems with the main canal’s headgate. In 1965, the association’s leadership met with President Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964-70) to discuss financing for a new headgate. Although Frei offered his support, the proposal remained stuck in development for the next 12 years. In 1977, the association finally  derechos de agua del Río Laja mediante el traspaso de recursos desde el Río Bío-Bío” (Memoria para optar al título de ingeniero civil, Santiago, Chile, Universidad de Chile, 1977), 32–34, 53, BC-FCFM; Bauer, Against the Current, 91–94. 83 Dirección de Riego, “Hoya hidrográfica del río Bío-Bío: recursos de agua y suelo” (Santiago, Chile: Ministerio de Obras Públicas, November 1963), 15–18, DOH-AT. 84 CEPAL, “Los recursos hidráulicos de América Latina: I. Chile” (Mexico City: Comisión Económica para América Latina, 1960), 101. 85 Nathaniel Wollman, The Water Resources of Chile: An Economic Method for Analyzing a Key Resource in a Nation’s Development (Baltimore: Published for Resources for the Future by the Johns Hopkins Press, 1968), 98. 86 See Cámara de Diputados, Diario de Sesiones, Legislatura Extraordinaria, Sesión 81ª, 27 April 1966, 7701–02; Diario de Sesiones, Legislatura Extraordinaria, Sesión 18ª, 9 Dec. 1969, 2431–32. 87 Dirección de Riego, “Canal Laja Sur,” 5. 88 Bauer, Against the Current, 91–94. 59    secured financing from a new regional development fund and completed the headgate in 1981 under a contract with the government.89 The division of responsibilities under the 1958 multi-use agreement also liberated ENDESA of any obligations to the downstream irrigation projects, apart from respecting seasonal water demands. In other words, the developer of the upper basin could not ignore downstream users, but was under no obligation to ensure that new canals materialized, a responsibility that fell to the Irrigation Department. I do not mean to argue that ENDESA’s engineers were indifferent to downstream irrigators or non-industrial forms of water use, nor that they were uninterested in multi-use projects. A multi-purpose reservoir was very much in the spirit of the 1943 electrification plan, which included plans for mechanical irrigation and rural electrification programs.90 In consultation with Reyes Cox, ENDESA even designed several large and medium-size irrigation projects to pump water using surplus power at night, but the program failed to produce results, which Harnecker later attributed to a poorly received financing mechanism.91  A Battery in the High Andes As Chile entered the 1970s, a series of environmental, political and technological factors converged at the Laguna del Laja, shaping its final transformation into a reserve battery for the emerging national grid. This transformation required rethinking the value of the water stored behind the reservoir’s leaky dam, setting the stage for the downstream conflicts in the following decades. First, the extended drought in the late 1960s ended what Harnecker later called a “collective amnesia” about water insecurity.92 The ensuing interest in water management and conservation among ENDESA and government officials was motivated not only by the desire for a more resilient power grid, but also by concerns that water scarcity would hinder economic development more broadly.93 Just before the drought, a U.N.-sponsored study predicted that, under a best-case scenario with maximum regulation, Santiago and the entire territory to the north would face a water deficit of up to 30% by 1985, with the severest impacts in the agriculture sector.94 On a less abstract level, policymakers remained preoccupied with boosting agricultural production to ease food shortages that directly impacted the lives of many Chileans.95 These dire warnings and mounting concerns figured into a series of ambitious water development schemes proposed in the early 1970s. For instance, several ENDESA engineers participated in a  89 González Abuter, Canalistas del Laja, 82–83; Alvarado Montero, “Derechos de agua del Río Laja,” 70. 90 CORFO, Plan de electrificación, 55. 91 Reinaldo Harnecker, “Política nacional de riego,” Revista Chilena de Ingeniería, No. 354, October 1972. 92 Harnecker, “Política nacional de riego.” 93 See, e.g., Luis Court M., Andrés Benítez G., and Cristián Maturana B., “El problema de aguas en Chile,” Trabajo presentado en la I etapa de la jornada de trabajo profesional. La planificación del uso de los recursos hidráulicos en Chile (Santiago, Chile: n.p., 1971), DGA-CIRH. 94 Wollman, The Water Resources of Chile, 21–23. 95 E.g., Louis Court Moock, “Política nacional de riego,” Revista Chilena de Ingeniería, No. 353, December 1971; Harnecker, “Política nacional de riego.” 60    commission that floated the idea of creating a national irrigation company in the mold of the state power company.96 One of those who participated was Luis Court Moock, the chief engineer for the Laja projects, who later occupied several high-level executive posts at the company. Court was also involved in a large-scale water project promoted during the Allende administration. The “Río de la Unidad” envisioned a series of reservoirs connected by canals along the length of Chile, moving water from the south to the drier northern provinces, much like the power grid redistributed surplus energy.97 The project was abandoned after the coup, but Court and other ENDESA personnel continued to publish articles on irrigation, water management and the national irrigation company into the 1970s. The drought and consequent power rationings on the central grid forced ENDESA to reevaluate some of its assumptions about the climate. The most unusual feature of the drought was its two-year duration, a type of event which ENDESA’s abbreviated streamflow data had not registered before. In the longer meteorological and historical records, the last drought of equivalent magnitude occurred in the 1920s, but that event was thought so extreme that a repeat in the near future was seen as “practically impossible,” as ENDESA’s chief hydrologist later explained.98 After the 1967-68 drought, company hydrologists undertook historical climate studies to predict future extreme events. Precise forecasting proved difficult, but they did find that droughts were rarely confined to a single region and that multiyear events were more frequent than initially believed.99 One study also detected a concerning trend: Annual precipitation appeared to be declining across Chile.100 This finding supported a recent ENDESA study in the Laja Basin, which noted a correlation between lower precipitation around Los Ángeles and decreased streamflow in the lake’s drainage basin.101 As the changing climate raised concerns about the long-term sustainability of Chile’s water resources, the oil crises of the 1970s served as reminders of hydro’s importance for energy sovereignty. The effects of the surge in oil prices were mostly confined to thermoelectric plants in the north, outside of the central grid. Nonetheless, for the planners at ENDESA the global energy crisis reinforced the long-standing belief that hydropower was the only abundant domestic energy source that used proven technology with an established track record in Chile. While other local sources had been developed, none appeared sustainable over the long term. For instance, the coal industry in Concepción was on the decline in the  96 “Formulación de una política nacional de utilización del agua,” Revista Chilena de Ingeniería, No. 350, August 1970. 97 For details on Río de la Unidad, see DGA, “El sistema río de la unidad: esquema alternativo de análisis No. 101” (Santiago, Chile: Dirección General de Aguas, Oficina Proyecto Río de la Unidad, 1972), DGA-CIRH. 98 Andrés Benítez Girón, in the introduction to Alcides Péndola Quezada, “Análisis hidrológico de las sequias en Chile” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., 1970), CIREN-CEDOC. 99 The results of those studies are summarized in Maturana B., “Características fundamentales de los recursos hidráulicos de Chile.” 100 Harry King F., “Variación de algunos factores meteorológicos en Chile a través del tiempo” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., 1970), 101–4, DGA-CIRH. 101 ENDESA, “Estudio de los recursos hidráulicos del Río Laja, Vol. II” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., June 1970), 1: 115–16, CIREN-CEDOC. 61    1970s, despite several attempts to save it. Oil and gas reserves discovered in Patagonia during the 1950s briefly supplied the domestic market until demand growth and natural depletion of the producing fields intervened. After the mid-1960s, fuel imports again displaced local production as the main source of fuel.102 Increasing Chile’s dependence on hydroelectricity thus not only conserved its depleted fuel stocks, but also improved the trade balance, in the midst of an economic crisis that lasted for most of the 1970s. In December 1974, Court convened a group of colleagues for a lecture series on water management in the power sector, later published in a book. In the introduction, he laid out the effects of the oil crisis and the looming water deficit, which created conflicting demands on water for energy and agriculture.103 In another chapter, Court and a colleague argued that, faced with the possibility of a water shortage that could wreak havoc on the economy, Chileans had to start treating water as a limited (and limiting) resource. Moreover, they noted, its development entailed mobilizing large sums of capital: Although it is an element found freely in nature, water demands considerable investment in infrastructure before it is properly able to meet the diverse needs of humankind. As such, the notion of limited resource must be joined to that of financial burden [oneroso], which transforms water from a “free good” into an “economic good.”104 On the surface, such an argument might seem to reflect the creeping influence of the military regime’s economic advisors and their neoliberal ideology. But in 1974 the Chicago Boys had yet to establish a firm grip on the junta’s economic policies.105 Moreover, while not entirely unreceptive to such ideas, the ENDESA employees were not cut from the same cloth, deriving their views on efficiency and planning from an engineering rather than economics background. “Free water,” in the view of Court and his colleagues, engendered wasteful practices and bred ignorance about the looming deficit. Assigning value to water was consistent with their calls for long-term planning and adopting new technologies to eliminate inefficiencies in the agricultural sector, where evapotranspiration was projected to account for the bulk of future offstream losses.106 Technical standards for rational use also aligned with the principles of the new water code implemented alongside the Agrarian Reform Law of 1967, a politicized process that would soon be reversed by the dictatorship.107  102 Pablo Jaramillo, “Repercusiones de la crisis de la energía en el sector eléctrico chileno” (Seminario sobre los recursos energéticos de Chile, Santiago, Chile: CONICYT, 1974), 2–5. The southern oil fields and the coal mines near Concepción both raised production at the end of the 1970s, but neither increase was sustained for long. The trade policies of the military regime also stimulated fuel imports. Folchi, Blanco-Wells, and Meier, “Definiciones tecno-políticas,” figs. 2–5. 103 AIE, ed., Los recursos de agua en Chile y su utilización en la generación de energía eléctrica (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros de ENDESA, 1974), 3–4. 104 Court M. and Maturana B., “Planificación,” 86. 105 This extended ideological transition will be revisited in more detail in the following chapter.  106 Wollman, The Water Resources of Chile, 21, 143. 107 Bauer, Against the Current, 39–40. 62    ENDESA itself had benefited from “free water” under the existing legislation, paying only nominal administrative fees when applying for water rights at its hydro stations. Up through the 1970s, the company operated the Laja plants in a regulatory system where the price of electricity was calculated based on fixed and operating capital (including adjustments for depreciation). ENDESA submitted these balance sheet figures every few years to regulators, who then approved new rates within the parameters of a 10% cap on net profits. In some ways, the use of fixed assets already accounted for the “financial burden” of water infrastructure that so concerned Court and his colleagues. In practice, the rate calculations aggregated costs for each region of the central grid, such that the price of energy produced on the Laja reflected the value of the entire grid infrastructure in Region 4.108  By 1970, ENDESA had begun to structure its wholesale prices to account for seasonal demand swings and water availability across the electrical regions, as well as to encourage fuel savings among large clients with on-site thermo plants.109 At this time, the company had also begun to develop mathematical models to manage its reservoirs, for the first time assigning an economic value directly to the stored water. The first model, implemented in 1974 as El Toro came online, was for Laguna del Laja. Reflecting a renewed awareness about water insecurity, the model sought to balance the lake’s dual roles as a form of drought insurance, which entailed saving water for future contingencies, and as a means of offsetting fuel costs at thermoelectric plants, which entailed drawing down the reservoir. In simplified terms, the model calculated the optimum mix of hydro and thermo inputs to supply energy during drought years, valuing the stored water in the reservoir based on current fuel costs. Intended for operational purposes only, the value assigned to the water did not directly impact the price of electricity. But the early model was a precursor to the pricing mechanisms that regulators introduced in the 1980s, when the water level at the lake was factored into the marginal cost of electricity across the entire grid.110   The early reservoir model tied the operation of the Laja complex to national and global processes. Meanwhile, the growth of the central grid provided the material basis for these increasingly distant linkages. The completion of El Toro in 1974 marked a new phase in the expansion of the interconnected network, with the introduction of high-voltage 220 kV transmission. While the first power line left  108 The system described here, which originated with the 1925 Electricity Services Law, applies to prices on ENDESA’s primary system of high-voltage lines, which connected to distributors and large consumers (a precursor to the wholesale market). Rates for distribution clients were approved following similar procedures and principles, albeit with their own particularities. ENDESA and regulators were also exposed to political pressures related to consumer rates. See CORFO, “El sistema de precios de la energía en Chile” (Santiago, Chile: Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, 1970), 84–96, CORFO-BC. 109 CORFO, 90–91. ENDESA had used regionally differentiated prices to influence consumer behavior since the central grid first emerged in the 1960s. ENDESA, “Tarifas eléctricas regionales y tarifa única” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., 1959), BCN-ED. 110 Similar management models were developed for the Rapel and La Invernada reservoirs, although neither had the storage or production capacity of Laja. Guillermo Espinosa Ihnen, “Los recursos hidroeléctricos en la planificación de la operación del Sistema Interconectado,” in Los recursos de agua en Chile y su utilización en la generación de energía eléctrica, ed. AIE (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros de ENDESA (AIE), 1974), 407–13. See also Germán Guerrero F., “La operación del sistema interconectado de la ENDESA,” in La energía eléctrica en Chile: algunos aspectos de la labor de la ENDESA, ed. AIE (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros de ENDESA, 1976), 339–68. 63    Region 4 in 1955 and the skeleton of a central grid was in place by 1962, the system’s maximum operating voltage of 154 kV restricted the volume of inter-regional power trading, which mainly occurred during emergencies.111 With the construction of the 220 kV lines, ENDESA added sinews to a bare-bones grid, facilitating the movement of large blocks of energy over longer distances. Following the completion of a 125-kilometer pilot line at the Rapel dam in 1968, El Toro anchored a larger 220 kV network with a 500-kilometer line wiring the reservoir to demand centers around Santiago. The 220 kV system expanded to Concepción in 1978 and extended into the mining regions north of Santiago by the early 1980s (a southwards expansion did not occur until much later). Changes to the system at the lake also incentivized using its waters for power generation. Due to its higher plant head, El Toro produced four times as much energy for each cubic meter of water that passed through its turbines in comparison to Abanico, which switched to generating power from the outlet’s unregulated subterranean flow. Operating El Toro, which drew directly from the reservoir, thus maximized the energy potential of the stored water. With the addition of Antuco in 1981, the Laja plants were plugged even further into the operational functions of the grid. The third plant, which acted as a regulator for the lake complex, allowed it to provide frequency control reserves to stabilize the entire central grid. In 1979, ENDESA also piloted a real-time computing system for process control at El Toro, later expanded to Antuco and the upper Polcura diversion tunnel. This test project laid the groundwork to replace the older telemetry system at the national dispatch center with an advanced SCADA network.112 In 1977, the Irrigation Department sent an inspector to the lake to check on its management, apparently to settle a dispute between ENDESA and the irrigators.113 Although the details of the conflict are unclear, it signals that tensions had begun to emerge even before the neoliberal frameworks for power production and water rights were in place. It also appears that ENDESA planners had already realized that their obligations to downstream irrigators were not compatible with the operation of the larger system, as the U.N. studies had signaled more than a decade earlier. At the 1974 lectures, Court and other colleagues referenced “conflicting interests” and “certain incompatibilities” between irrigation and power in multi-use projects, noting the inherent seasonal tensions between different types of water uses.114 Another engineer admitted that the Laja multi-use agreement was due for an update, given the changes to the  111 Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, Política eléctrica (Santiago, Chile: Editorial Universitaria, 1988), 66. 112 Eduardo Lucero M., “Operación futura del complejo Laja: aplicación a un computador de procesos,” in La energía eléctrica en Chile: algunos aspectos de la labor de la ENDESA, ed. AIE (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros de ENDESA, 1976), 371–405; Germán Guerrero F., “La explotación de las obras de la ENDESA,” in Visión de la ENDESA: ciclo de charlas sobre la ENDESA al cumplir 40 años electrificando el país, ed. AIE (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros de ENDESA, 1984), 6: 31–35; ENDESA, 50 años, 97. 113 Armando Hamel Armengoll to Ingeniero Jefe Regional de Riego VIII Región, “Administración recursos agua Lago Laja,” 22 Feb. 1977, Fondo DOH, vol. 1449, ARNAD. 114 It is not clear if they were referring to a specific region, but it seems likely that they had in mind the Maule River, where ENDESA had worked with U.S. consultants from California on an irrigation and power project in the 1960s. Court M. and Maturana B., “Planificación,” 103–4. On the California connection in Maule, see Carl J. Bauer and Luis Catalán, “Water, Law, and Development in Chile/California Cooperation, 1960–70s,” World Development 90 (2017): 184–98. 64    upstream and downstream projects since 1958. On the other hand, he reiterated earlier claims that the regulation works had freed the lake from the hydrological cycle, implying that technology could smooth over any tensions that arose.115 Several years later, a university student supervised by ENDESA engineers claimed that revised hydrological models and datasets from the 1970s had found that the streamflow figures written into the 1958 agreement overestimated the annual runoff of the lake’s drainage basin. This meant that when a new canal was built on the Laja, the reservoir could not meet the enlarged summer irrigation obligations while also covering the power demand peaks in the winter. Without access to the original studies, it is difficult to verify these claims or determine if the overestimated figures were the result of measurement errors or external factors. The 1970 ENDESA study showing decreased streamflow around the Laguna del Laja suggests a climate-based explanation. Many decades later, a government study confirmed that the average flow in the lake’s drainage basin had in fact decreased since 1958, which the authors attributed to climate change.116 Conclusion In the early 1980s, ENDESA revised the management model for the reservoir to incorporate the marginal pricing system of the newly implemented market framework, finalizing the lake’s transformation into a price-setter. To this day, as Chile’s only multiyear storage reservoir, the Laguna del Laja functions in this role, even as the river basin’s share of the total electricity supply has diminished. As this chapter shows, most of the major steps toward the lake’s transformation into a reserve battery had been completed before 1980. Regulating the lake began as a solution to avoid future conflicts with irrigators and ease tensions in the basin in the 1940s, but pressures from beyond the watershed quickly intruded into design decisions and development priorities. While they often preached the gospel of multi-use, in practice the ENDESA engineers prioritized from the beginning power generation and broader system building. Despite creating a reservoir purportedly for multiple uses, the engineers at the company never had a formal obligation to ensure that the downriver projects came to fruition. The Laja multi-use agreement only ensured a minimum flow entered canal headgates during the summer, but at the reservoir it was superseded by priorities emanating from places and people increasingly distant from the irrigators downriver.117 Indeed, ENDESA historically avoided negotiating with other water users, and Laja was one of only a handful of  115 Gustavo Benavente Z., “Aprovechamiento hidroeléctrico del Río Laja,” in Los recursos de agua en Chile y su utilización en la generación de energía eléctrica, ed. AIE (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros de ENDESA, 1974), 253, 258. 116 The student’s thesis cites a revised streamflow estimate from a 1970 study by ENDESA, which appears to be distinct from the study I was able to consult from that year. Alvarado Montero, “Derechos de agua del Río Laja,” 6–7, 52–53. For the 2017 findings, see DESMAR and CONIC-BF, “Estudio hidrológico río y Lago Laja y batimetría Lago Laja, VIII Región del Bío Bío: resumen ejecutivo – revisión 0” (Santiago, Chile: Dirección de Obras Hidráulicas, December 2014), 55–56, DOH-AT. 117 Carl Bauer has observed that Chilean water law separates water rights to reservoirs from the rivers that drain them, a division that makes little sense in hydrological terms. Bauer, Against the Current, 114. 65    cases where it signed a multi-use agreement.118 The final configuration of the Laja complex reflected this persistent (if unacknowledged) prioritization of energy production over irrigation – and, by extension, urban and industrial development over rural development – undermining the spirit of the original accord. ENDESA’s attempts to balance competing water uses downriver were ultimately subsumed by and subordinated to the demands of a complex envirotechnical system.119 Engineering the lake also demanded frequent negotiation with the environmental and geophysical conditions of the upper basin. Claims that regulation would liberate the Laja River from the hydrological cycle overstated the capacity of technological interventions to reduce and contain the complexity of nature. The Laja was never truly “tamed,” despite claims to the contrary. Regulation of the lake’s discharge was only partial, one of several examples of how construction plans conformed to the Andean topography and geology of the upper basin. Moreover, the technological interventions at the lake were unable to completely shelter it from climatological forces operating at much larger scales. The drought at the end of the 1960s hinted at these limitations, but rather than stop to reconsider, ENDESA pushed ahead with its plans to plug the lake into the central grid. Given the years of planning and capital sunk into the project by then, perhaps it was too late to change course.120 The water crisis, it seems, also reinforced the notion that regulating the lake was necessary to mitigate the risks of future droughts. Subsequent droughts and the continued demand growth, which inevitably reduced the reservoir’s capacity to cover supply shortfalls in dry years, would prove otherwise.121            118 See Michael Nelson, “Viewpoint – Fifty Years of Hydroelectric Development in Chile: A History of Unlearned Lessons,” Water Alternatives 6, no. 2 (2013): 195–206. Nelson worked in Chile from the 1960s onwards. 119 On the various conflicts in the basin from the 1980s onwards, see Bauer, Against the Current, 86–94. The Laja-Diguillín Canal, derived from the Plan Laja projects, was eventually completed in 2008, although it generated tensions among downstream users. 120 See Renato Salazar’s comments in the opening to Chapter 1. 121 After years of ad-hoc revisions, the multi-use agreement was finally updated in 2017. The new text strengthened irrigators’ claims to the reservoir and added language on droughts, as well as conservation measures to prevent the lake from getting too low. See Dirección de Obras Hidráulicas, “Acuerdo de operación y recuperación del Lago Laja. Complementa Convenio de 1958,” 16 Nov. 2017. 66                 Figure 4 – Contrasting Demand Curves Seasonal irrigation and electricity demand on the Laja, from an earlier draft of the 1960 U.N. study of Chilean water resources. Note that electricity demand peaks in the fall and winter months of May-September, when irrigation needs are at their lowest.  Source: CEPAL, “Los recursos hidráulicos de Chile y su aprovechamiento” (Panama City: Comisión Económica para América Latina, 1959), p. 236 67         Figure 5 – Region 4 & Abanico The Abanico System, circa 1955. The darker lines represent the 154 kV trunk line. The higher-voltage system tended to expand north several years or even decades before moving south. Later, 220 kV lines would follow almost the same routes and a similar timeline, extending north before turning southwards. Image used with permission of Enel Generación Chile. Source: ENDESA, “Sistema hidroeléctrico Abanico” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., 1955), BN-MC. 68                                  Figure 6 – Abanico, front view (c. 1950) Image used with permission of Museo Histórico Nacional de Chile. Photo: Marcos Chamúdez Reitich  Figure 7 – ENDESA Line Crew, near Abanico (c. 1950) Image used with permission of Museo Histórico Nacional de Chile. Photo: Marcos Chamúdez Reitich  69                                  Figure 8 – Laguna del Laja, with view of Antuco Volcano (1968) Image used with permission of Museo Histórico Nacional de Chile. Photo: Carlos Tapia Tobar  Figure 9 – Excavation of El Toro Powerhouse (n.d.) Likely late 1960s. Image used with permission of Museo Histórico Nacional de Chile. Photo: Foto Dienst 70     Figure 10 – Laja Hydroelectric Complex Key infrastructure of the Laja complex, with start-up dates. Not visible are two small diversions completed in the 1980s on tributaries near Abanico and two power plants built farther downriver by a private developer in the 1990s and 2000s. Data from Ministerio de Energía de Chile, Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile, Instituto Geográfico Militar, JAXA’s ALOS Science Program, and ENDESA, “Aprovechamiento hidroeléctrico del río Laja,” 1981.  Map by Eric Leinberger 71    Ch. 4 – Hydro-Legacies in Patagonia Some 1,000 kilometers south of the Laja, the wild Patagonian rivers of Aysén for decades beckoned to developers eager to tame their torrential waters with concrete and steel and tap into what they understood as another reserve of energy. Yet nothing would come of these increasingly grandiose visions until the era of state-led power development was long past. In the early 2000s, the long-gestating hydropower plans in Aysén resurfaced as HidroAysén, a private US$3.2 billion scheme to generate power on the Baker and Pascua rivers for urban and mining consumers located several thousand kilometers to the north. The project encountered fierce opposition from a broad coalition of local and international environmentalist groups, who joined with other social movements in a collective repudiation of the political and economic model that had outlasted the Pinochet dictatorship. Sustained opposition eventually resulted in the project’s cancellation by 2017.1 Absent from most accounts of HidroAysén, however, is the long development history of the power project itself. Starting in the 1940s, engineers at ENDESA began to eye rivers in Aysén and other parts of southern Chile as potential sites where large hydro projects could be paired with energy-intensive industries, such as aluminum smelting. Since Patagonia was one of the least explored areas of Chile at the time, ENDESA’s first expeditions to Aysén’s rivers in the late 1940s and early 1960s focused on the basic tasks of measuring streamflow, quantifying energy potentials and identifying promising sites for dam building. Early discussions about these projects tended to take a narrowly technical view of the rivers. Questions such as how to use the large blocks of power generated by the hypothetical dams, where and to what end would Chile direct the materials produced from that energy, and who could finance so large an endeavor were addressed indirectly, if at all. These mostly internal conversations moved to a larger forum in the mid-1970s – just as El Toro was coming online on the Laja – when the Baker and Pascua were enrolled in a “high modernist” regional development scheme to remake Aysén’s remote rural economy.2 This brought the rivers and the dams imagined on them by ENDESA engineers into contact with a shifting political economic program, new actors in the Chilean bureaucracy, and geopolitical and ecological concerns rooted in regional history. At the same time, global events intruded in ongoing  1 Patricio Rodrigo Salinas, “Energía eléctrica y paradigma de desarrollo: Patagonia Sin Represas y empoderamiento ciudadano,” Anales de la Universidad de Chile, no. 5 (2014): 115–41; Silva, “Patagonia, without Dams!”; Sophia L. Borgias and Yvonne A. Braun, “From Dams to Democracy: Framing Processes and Political Opportunities in Chile’s Patagonia Without Dams Movement,” Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements 9, no. 2 (2017): 300–328. For other accounts of the HidroAysén conflict, see Hugo Romero and Aurora Sambolín, “Discursos y conflictos socio-territoriales por la construcción de hidroeléctricas en la Patagonia-Aysén,” in Imaginarios geográficos, prácticas y discursos de frontera. Aysén-Patagonia desde el texto de la nación, ed. Andrés Núñez et al. (Santiago, Chile: Instituto de Geografía de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2017), 263–82; Barandiarán, Science and Environment in Chile, chap. 6. 2 James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998). See also Barandiarán, Science and Environment in Chile, 161–65. 72    national discussions around energy conservation and resource utilization, which affected how Chilean planners envisioned the future of Aysén’s rivers and the future of energy in Chile. This chapter examines an understudied period in the history of HidroAysén, from the earliest proposals to dam the Baker and Pascua rivers to the regional development scheme briefly pursued by CORFO in the aftermath of the 1973 coup. In other words, the chapter tells the story of HidroAysén before it was known by that name. In doing so, it follows a development project’s gradual metamorphosis amid major political economic shifts in Chile. Studying this transformation reveals, on the one hand, how the interplay of old and new ideas and material realities permitted certain elements of the project to persist and adapt over time.3 On the other hand, it illustrates how an unrealized project could still shape the large system that ENDESA was building elsewhere in Chile. The power stations on the Baker and Pascua rivers never moved beyond the preliminary design stages, existing primarily in the minds of planners and in their blueprints and technical studies, the latter of which are the empirical foundations of this chapter. As recent work by historical geographers has shown, unrealized or failed megaprojects produce technical plans and discourses with remarkable staying power.4 They also create environmental perceptions that set the terms for future projects and debates and leave behind material legacies in regions often at the margins of development – what Jonathan Peyton has called the “unbuilt environment.” This term refers to the unrealized development schemes existing primarily on paper that sustain ideas about an environment, often divorced from its biophysical realities, upon which subsequent projects are layered. It recognizes, in other words, that failed projects – of which Latin America has no shortage – leave traces not only in the archives, but also in the environments where they would have been built, paving the way for later endeavors.5 The earlier Baker-Pascua projects certainly produced material and discursive conditions for later attempts to develop the rivers. To take an obvious example, a privatized ENDESA was the main sponsor of the revived project in the 2000s, and some of its arguments about HidroAysén’s contributions to energy security and reliability were almost identical to discourses employed by hydro boosters at the company some 60 years ago.6 Yet the unbuilt environment of Aysén was also one element of a greater built environment. As it explored the Baker and Pascua for the first time, to the north ENDESA was laying the foundations for the central power grid. It would stretch the limits of the available evidence to argue that the earlier Baker-Pascua projects directly intervened in system building to the north. But they did shape  3 Cf. Offner, Sorting Out the Mixed Economy. 4 Jonathan Peyton, Unbuilt Environments: Tracing Postwar Development in Northwest British Columbia (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017); Christopher Sneddon, Concrete Revolution: Large Dams, Cold War Geopolitics, and the US Bureau of Reclamation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), chap. 5. 5 Peyton, Unbuilt Environments, 6–8, 14. 6 For an example, see a company presentation from 2005. ENDESA, “Proyecto hidroeléctrico Aysén: etapa de prospección,” retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20060212072519/http://www.endesa.cl/endesa_chile/aysen/ProyectoAysen.pdf (accessed 12/25/2020). 73    broader debates about the transformative potential, sustainability and, most importantly, availability of hydropower, which influenced the paths that developers followed to the north of Aysén. While located at the geographical margins, Aysén still had a role to play in the construction of the massive network that would come to encompass all of central Chile.7 Southern Waterpowers The regions of Aysén and Magallanes, which together comprise southern Chilean Patagonia, account for roughly one-third of the national territory, but have never been home to more than a fraction of the population. In 1940, Aysén’s population was just over 17,000 (0.3% of the national total), a majority of whom lived on or near the Aysén River, which lies north of the Baker and Pascua. The two largest settlements in the province8 were Puerto Aysén (the capital at the time) with a population of 3,767 and Coyhaique with 2,577. The 1940 census also reported 2,596 people living around Lake Gen. Carrera, where the Baker River’s headwaters emerge; farther south, in the vast space between the headwaters of the Baker and the Pascua’s source, Lake O’Higgins, only 667 souls were recorded.9 High annual precipitation on the western slopes of the Andes sustains the large annual discharges of the Pascua and Baker, which cut short courses through the mountains – the longer Baker runs 170 kilometers – before emptying into a network of fjords bordered by large ice fields to the north and south. Glaciers at the margins of the ice fields also feed mid-basin tributaries and, in the case of the Pascua, Lake O’Higgins. Before the 20th century, no permanent Chilean (or colonial Spanish) settlements were established in Aysén. Chilean politicians and writers considered the territory a mysterious and forsaken region, despite a millennia-spanning history of indigenous occupation.10 Colonial resettlement policies in the 1700s and Argentine military campaigns to the east during the following century forced out most of the territory’s original inhabitants by the late 1800s.11 In the 1890s, the Chilean government hired the German-born geographer Hans Steffen, who worked at the Natural History Museum in Santiago, to undertake the first  7 Chilean geographers have argued that Aysén’s marginality derives from political narratives imposed by a central government eager to expand its territorial reach, rather than from its physical location. See Andrés Núñez, Enrique Aliste, and Alvaro Bello, “Patagonia-Aysén en la construcción del imaginario geográfico de la nación,” Iztapalapa. Revista de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades, no. 76 (2014): 165–88. These same authors have also called for a rethinking of the territory’s marginality. Andrés Núñez et al., eds., Imaginarios geográficos, prácticas y discursos de frontera: Aysén-Patagonia desde el texto de la nación (Santiago, Chile: Instituto de Geografía de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2017), 23–31. 8 Over the 20th century, Aysén’s territorial classification has changed several times. It was a department of Llanquihue province until 1927, when it was incorporated as an independent territory. Two years later, it was elevated to the status of province. Later in the 1970s, the province was reclassified as a region, a process explored in further detail below. 9 Robert McCaa, “Chile. XI censo de población (1940): recopilación de cifras publicadas por la Dirección de Estadísticas y Censos,” Serie OI - CELADE, No. 32 (Santiago, Chile: Centro Latinoamericano de Demografía, 1972), 74–75, 114.  10 For a synthesis of the archaeological and historical records of indigenous occupation of Aysén, see Mateo Martinic Beros, De la Trapananda al Aysén, 2nd Edition (Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Fundación Río Baker, 2014), 33–88. 11 This is not to say that Aysén had no indigenous presence after the mid-1800s. Indigenous peoples from communities outside of Aysén traveled to the region to fish, hunt, collect wood and pasture livestock during the 1800s and into 1900s, as they had done for centuries. See Andrés Núñez et al., “Silencios geográficos en Patagonia-Aysén: territorio, nomadismo y perspectivas para re-pensar los márgenes de la nación en el siglo XIX,” Magallania 44, no. 2 (2016): 107–30. To the north, Mapuche displaced by the colonization of Araucanía joined groups of Chilean peasants who arrived via Argentina in the early 20th century. Today, nearly 29% of the population identifies as indigenous. Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas, “Síntesis de resultados: Censo 2017” (Santiago, Chile: Government of Chile, 2018), 17. 74    systematic explorations of Patagonia and its rivers. Geopolitics as much as scientific discovery motivated the Steffen expeditions, which gathered evidence for an international arbitration to settle a border dispute with Argentina. After the boundary issue was put to rest (temporarily) in 1902, the Chilean government began granting the first colonization concessions in Aysén to private livestock companies, initiating a disorganized and violent period of settlement.12 Steffen and his associates were the first outsiders to survey the Baker and Pascua basins. Several decades would pass before Patagonian rivers drew the attention of the electrification boosters at the Institute of Chilean Engineers. In the Politica eléctrica, Reinaldo Harnecker and his colleagues noted that electricity was the key “raw material” in electrolysis and other energy-intensive industrial processes employed in the advanced economies of North America and Europe. Some private industrial establishments in Chile were already employing electrolysis to refine copper and produce chemicals. Aluminum smelting, one of the major electro-industrial processes of the 20th century, would eventually become the central concern in the south, but at this stage it was but one of nearly 40 different products that the engineers listed to demonstrate the great “industrial future” that awaited Chile if it exploited its energy resources wisely. Producing these materials required a cheap and constant supply of electricity, which hydro was uniquely suited to provide. Moreover, industrial plants would be best served if located in areas without competing demands for power – in other words, outside of urbanized central Chile. As we noted in Chapter 2, the engineers repeatedly cited Norway as an example of how to allocate abundant waterpower for industrial production and suggested that similar – perhaps even better – conditions existed in southern Chile, where the glacier-strewn fjords bore more than a passing similarity to the Nordic landscape.13 “Southern” (austral), in this case, appeared to refer broadly to Patagonia, including Aysén and Magallanes, as well as the coastal mainland areas near the Chiloe Archipelago and the Reloncaví areas, which both lay to the north.14 The lack of geographical specificity in the Política eléctrica was perhaps deliberate, given that scientific and technical knowledge of Patagonian rivers had hardly progressed since the Steffen expeditions, which in any case did not collect much useful data for assessing power production. This ambiguity carried on into the 1943 electrification plan, which assigned Aysén to Region 6.15 The plan, along with contemporary studies of the electricity problem, argued that a tremendous  12 On the boundary disputes see, Carlos Sanhueza, “Un saber geográfico en acción: Hans Steffen y el litigio patagónico 1892-1902,” Magallania 40, no. 1 (2012): 21–44; Emily Wakild, “Protecting Patagonia: Science, Conservation and the Pre-History of the Nature State on a South American Frontier, 1903-1934,” in The Nature State: Rethinking the History of Conservation, ed. Wilko Graf von Hardenberg et al. (Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge, 2017), 37–54. On early colonization efforts, see Adolfo Ibáñez Santa María, “La incorporación de Aisén a la vida nacional, 1902-1936,” Historia 11 (1973): 259–378. 13 Harnecker et al., Política eléctrica chilena, 18, 75–77, 148. 14 In some uses, the term “Patagonia” includes these areas and parts of the southern frontier region north of the Relconcaví Estuary, which sits at the southernmost point of mainland Chile. Aysén and Magallanes, in turn, are considered the far south. 15 Region 6 also includes the Chiloé Archipelago, north of Aysén. Chiloé’s largest island was eventually connected to the central power grid in regions 2-5 via a submarine inter-tie across the Chacao Channel. 75    waterpower potential lay dormant in the south. 16 Yet in spite of the favorable conditions for electro-industrial development, the torrential southern rivers were ultimately excluded from the first phase of electrification, largely due to more pressing power needs to the north, as well as the sparse population and limited existing demand for power (see Chapter 2). The technical sophistication and high capital costs of aluminum smelting, which favored the concentration of capacity in richer nations, may have also influenced the decision, although it is not clear that Chilean planners were seriously considering an aluminum project in the 1940s.17 More importantly, up to this point, all claims about Aysén’s hydro potential were founded on limited empirical data. Thus, the immediate task was to explore and quantify the southern waterpowers. This process began in 1938, when three of Harnecker’s students at the University of Chile surveyed the Petrohué River, which empties into the Reloncaví Estuary.18 CORFO continued this work when it began the national hydro inventory in 1939, advancing as far south as the Petrohué by 1942. The results of these preliminary studies were included in the 1943 electrification plan, which estimated that the entire territory north of Petrohué to hold a hydro-energy potential of up to 6,000 MW.19 With the northern surveys complete, the next step was to venture farther into Patagonia.20 Just before the first expedition got underway in 1944, Harnecker published two short articles in the Anales of the Institute of Engineers, in which he confidently predicted that the 16 major rivers from Petrohué to Magallanes contained substantial reserves of energy. He argued further that southern Chile’s geography, with low-cost energy sources in close proximity to the coast, constituted a type of “natural wealth” found in few places outside of Chile (again, Norway being one of the exceptions). The low cost of transporting raw materials by sea, in other words, favored locating processing plants at sites with access to an ocean port and cheap energy.21 By this time, the wartime demand for aluminum, whose lightweight properties made it ideal for airplane construction, had spurred large-scale expansions in hydro and smelting capacity across North America. Demand growth would continue after the war, encouraging developers to seek out sites with the same characteristics described by Harnecker. On the other end of the Pacific American coast, for example, the Aluminum Company of Canada initiated surveys for a large smelter and hydro project in northern British Columbia in the late 1940s.22 The articles by Harnecker still showed no sign  16 See Harnecker, “Desarrollo armónico”; Simón et al., “El problema de la energía”; CORFO, Plan de electrificación, 61. 17 Stephen G. Bunker and Paul S. Ciccantell, “The Evolution of the World Aluminum Industry,” in States, Firms, and Raw Materials: The World Economy and Ecology of Aluminum, ed. Brad Barham, Stephen G. Bunker, and Denis O’Hearn (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994), 39–62. 18 See Sergio Ojeda Jiménez, “Estudio de las reservas hidroeléctricas del Lago Todos los Santos” (Tesis para optar al título de ingeniero civil, Santiago, Chile, Universidad de Chile, 1940), BC-FCFM.  19 CORFO, Plan de electrificación, 44. This figure is described as the sum of the base and peak capacities of all potential sites identified in the surveys, although the exact definition of these two terms is not clear. 20 By this point, ENDESA had taken over the electrification plan from CORFO, including the waterpower surveys.  21 Reinaldo Harnecker, “Aprovechamiento de la energía hidro-eléctrica de los ríos australes de Chile,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 4–5 (1944): 123–25. 22 Matthew Evenden, Fish versus Power: An Environmental History of the Fraser River (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), chap. 5. 76    that aluminum was the ultimate goal for Patagonia. Instead, he listed the inputs for a range of electro-chemical and electro-metallurgical products in a chart taken from a 1938 report by the U.S. Federal Power Commission, again showing the varied paths of industrial water development.23 Since the boundary expeditions at the turn of the century, few state-sanctioned explorers had returned to the Baker and Pascua, the latter of which remained sparsely populated and cut off from the colonization enterprises to the north. The historical record of ENDESA’s 1940s surveys is limited, mainly gleaned from technical papers and reports published after the fact.24 In 1947, an engineer traveled through the Baker Valley and identified two potential sites with a combined capacity of 1,117 MW under normal hydrological conditions.25 The first site was some 15 kilometers downstream from the Baker’s headwaters, near its confluence with the Chacabuco River; the second was farther downstream in a canyon of rapids known as El Saltón. It appears as if ENDESA personnel were unable to visit the Pascua River and identify project sites, likely because of its remoteness, inclement weather, or a lack of time and resources – or a combination of all three factors. Using crude flow and head measurements, however, a hydrologist estimated that Pascua could produce up to 1,120 MW, putting it on par with the Baker.26 ENDESA organized new expeditions to Aysén during the early 1960s. This time, the company managed to explore sections of the Pascua. Reaching the river was a two-month ordeal. In early 1961, surveyors traveled by land from Punta Arenas in Magallanes through the Argentinian pampas to the eastern shore of Lake O’Higgins. From there, they crossed the lake by boat to explore the Pascua’s headwaters and a small section of the upper basin. They then returned to Argentina and traveled some 400 kilometers north to a port near Coyhaique, where they boarded a naval patrol ship and sailed south through the fjords to the river delta. Bad weather, the difficult terrain and insufficient provisions again kept them from traveling farther upriver from the delta, leaving most of the basin unexplored.27 The team did succeed in installing a streamflow gauge at the Pascua’s headwaters. A second expedition in 1962 placed a gauge at the Baker’s headwaters and another in the middle of the basin. Company hydrologists also began logging water levels and measuring precipitation around Gen. Carrera Lake, all under the aegis of a national hydro- 23 Reinaldo Harnecker, “Aprovechamiento de la energía hidro-eléctrica de los ríos australes de Chile,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile, no. 6 (1944): 183. 24A key source is Reinaldo Harnecker, “Recursos potenciales de energía hidroeléctrica de Chile y su utilización en la industria electro-química y electro-metalúrgica en gran escala,” in Transactions of the Fourth World Power Conference, July 11-14, 1950 (Fourth World Power Conference, London: Lund Humphries, 1952), 2122–32. The context for this source is discussed below. For some additional details on the 1940s surveys, see Nibaldo Bahamonde, “Hans Niemeyer Fernández como hidrólogo,” Noticiario Mensual del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural XXI, no. 297 (1981): 10–14. 25 Normal refers to an average (50%) hydrological year. See Harnecker, “Recursos potenciales,” 2129. 26 Harnecker, 2129–30. 27 ENDESA, “Proyecto de desarrollo hidroeléctrico de los ríos Baker y Pascua: informe de prefactibilidad, primera parte” (Santiago, Chile: Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, December 1975), 4–5, CORFO-BA. The expedition is also described in a company newsletter from the 1970s. No date is given, but it likely refers to the 1961 expedition. “Aysén: La ‘tierra del futuro’ entra al presente,” ENDESA, No. 219, February-March 1975. 77    meteorological program financed by the United Nations and supervised by the World Meteorological Organization.28 From the first approximations in the late 1940s, it was clear that Harnecker’s prediction was not far off the mark. The theoretical energy potential of the Baker, the Pascua and several other southern rivers far exceeded most of the sites identified to the north and dwarfed the generation capacity (from all sources) then installed throughout Chile, which totaled 774 MW in 1950.29 When ENDESA published the revised version of the electrification plan in 1956, Region 6 contained 56% of the hydropower capacity that Chilean rivers could theoretically produce under normal hydrological conditions and up to 65% in exceptionally dry years. Region 5, which included several large sites along the Reloncaví Estuary, accounted for an additional 13% of the total capacity in a normal hydrological year, estimated at 17,695 MW.30 As these figures demonstrated, southern Chile was a massive and renewable wellspring of energy. They also affirmed the conviction of ENDESA’s leadership that only hydro could power electrification on the scale appropriate to Chile’s short- and long-term development objectives. Already in 1943, before the Patagonian surveys had begun, the electrification plan had argued that hydro alone could meet the urgent need for power, given that local sources of coal were finite (and oil-based fuels had to be imported).31 This argument gained steam in the 1950s as the theoretical reserves of waterpower continued to increase.32 The second edition of the plan declared that “the most important source of energy for power generation in Chile is its hydraulic resources, followed by coal, although to a much lesser degree.”33 Despite the evident potential in the south, the 1956 electrification plan deferred large-scale developments in Aysén until a later date, again citing its isolation and lack of existing demand.34 The southernmost hydro project to date was the Pilmaiquén station near Osorno, and for the next phase of electrification the largest project planned in Region 6 was a tiny hydro plant near Puerto Aysén. In the short term, most of ENDESA’s attention and resources were directed toward shoring up the power supply around Santiago, which experienced frequent blackouts into the mid-1950s. Over the longer term, the company was  28 ENDESA, 5. 29 ENDESA, “Producción y consumo 1986.” 30 ENDESA, Plan de electrificación, 2nda, 89 (Cuadro No. 30). 31 CORFO, Plan de electrificación, v, 41. Oil and gas reserves were discovered in Magallanes the following decade, but never achieved sustainable production levels. 32 It is difficult to directly compare the capacity estimates that appear in different studies, due to changing and sometimes unclear definitions and measurement methods – a problem compounded by the limited archival sources to contextualize the figures. For example, the 1956 plan puts the total generation potential of the Baker stations at 4,000 MW during a regular (50%) hydrological year, nearly four times the figure reported after the 1947 surveys. It is unclear if this difference is attributable to a transcription error in the sources, to different methods of estimation, or some other factor. What is clear, however, is that the total estimated hydro potential increased with each study, and the southern rivers played an important role in this growth.  33 ENDESA, Plan de electrificación, 2nda, 77–79. Variants of this discourse – that hydro was the best option for electrification – were reproduced over the years in the company newsletter and public speeches by executives. For example, a documentary on electrification co-produced by ENDESA in the 1960s states: “… the rivers of Aysén are measured and evaluated for when the country needs them.” Agustín Cardemil, Y la luz se hizo (Instituto Fílmico UC, ENDESA, n/d), AFUC-IF, retrieved from http://archivofilmico.uc.cl/archivo/y-la-luz-se-hizo/ (accessed: 12/25/2020). 34 ENDESA, Plan de electrificación, 2nda, 247. 78    focused on adding generation and transmission capacity to the emerging central power grid. Severe inflation in the 1950s, coupled with a slow rate review process, also made it difficult for ENDESA to cover its operating expenses, much less finance new projects, although it continued to receive funding from the government and international lenders. More broadly, the inflationary period revealed cracks in the industrialization programs initiated during the previous decade. Yet ENDESA’s planners had not forgotten the allure of Patagonia’s rivers and their potential for industrial development. To the north, in fact, ENDESA was already experimenting with a variant of this approach on the Laja River, albeit in the more densely populated and far less isolated coastal industrial zone around Concepción (see Chapter 3). In 1950, Harnecker reported on the results of the first Baker and Pascua surveys in a paper submitted to the Fourth World Power Conference in London. He gave four examples of Chilean ocean ports situated near large hydro prospects. The paper focused exclusively on the power stations and had little to say about their industrial counterparts, but it did reveal growing technical ambitions and a broadened geographic scope. All but one of the projects was upward of 1,000 MW, far larger than any existing or planned hydro development in Chile at the time. Several were transnational undertakings, including an audacious scheme to pump water from Lake Titicaca on the Bolivia-Peru border over the continental divide for power generation and irrigation, which would have required trilateral cooperation along a contested border. Apart from the Titicaca scheme, however, Harnecker provided few technical details on the hydro projects, the rest of which were located in the south. His descriptions of the Baker-Pascua dams, for example, included only crude data on plant head, annual stream discharge and watershed size, which were used to estimate total generation capacity.35 Subsequent ENDESA studies of electro-industrial schemes in the south focused on the Reloncaví Estuary due to its proximity to urban areas and relatively milder climate.36 These studies reveal political economic and technical considerations that would later resurface in the Aysén projects in the 1970s. In another paper submitted to the Fifth World Power Conference in Vienna in 1956, for instance, Harnecker and a colleague employed a logic of abundance and stability to explain hydro’s importance for advanced industrial development based on low-cost energy: …the concept of cheap power varies, due to the continuous increase in power consumption for general purposes, which leads to a constant revaluation of power potentialities. Hydroelectric power is probably the source with the largest margin for such revaluation; in other words, there is still plenty of hydroelectric power in certain parts of the world over current requirements for  35 Harnecker, “Recursos potenciales,” 2129–30. 36 See Reinaldo Harnecker and Renato E. Salazar, “Utilization of Raw Materials and Hydroelectric Resources of the South Pacific Coast of Chile for Electrochemical and Electrometallurgical Industries (Paper 264 H/45),” in Transactions of the Fifth World Power Conference, June 17-23, 1956 (Fifth World Power Conference, Vienna: Osterreichisches Nationalkomitee der Weltkraftkonferenz, 1957), 4681–91. 79    general purposes and for this reason in Chile, the search for cheap power has been concentrated on hydroelectric possibilities [italics in original].37 Geostrategic Rivers Aluminum had yet to figure prominently into these early discussions of southern waterpower. Harnecker and his co-author, future ENDESA general manager Renato Salazar, did not mention it in their paper on the Reloncaví plants, which like previous studies focused mostly on power development. Consumption of primary aluminum in Chile had mostly remained flat during the 1950s and early 1960s, accounting for only a small portion of Latin American demand.38  In 1961, however, Salazar published a prefeasibility study for a 10,000 ton/year aluminum smelter near Reloncaví to stimulate domestic consumption of aluminum and avoid a future dependency on imports (as well as generate jobs in a low-income region recently rocked by a 9.5-magnitude earthquake).39 Later on, the influence of the dependency school of development theory on the presidencies of Eduardo Frei Montalva and Salvador Allende brought a renewed interest in industrialization projects. During the Frei administration, for instance, CORFO’s leadership hosted discussions with private sector leaders on how to insert Chile into the international economy and fielded proposals to intensify exports of industrial goods.40 In this context, a group of CORFO technocrats revisited the idea of building an aluminum smelter in the south. They eventually dropped the proposal after Allende took office and the government’s industrial priorities shifted, but not before they hit on the idea of locating the smelter within a larger complex of metallurgical and chemical plants that could absorb all the energy produced from exploiting southern rivers.41 Shortly after a military coup on Sept. 11, 1973, CORFO dusted off the electro-industrial complex idea, relocating it to Aysén. Before the year was over, the corporation had created a Coordinating Commission for the Development of Aysén and appointed as its technical director Ramón Valderas Ojeda, one of the engineers behind the electro-industrial complex proposed at the end of the 1960s. Under the guidance of Valderas, the project was enrolled in a comprehensive regional economic development plan, in the mold of the river basin approach made famous by the TVA in the southern United States. In Aysén, the electro-industrial complex would be developed in conjunction with the hydroelectric stations on the Baker and  37 Harnecker and Salazar, 4685. 38 Apparent consumption figures for 1950-1963 are found in Armando P. Martijena, “Perspectivas del desarrollo de la industria del aluminio primario en América Latina y posibilidades de integración regional” (Santiago, Chile: Comisión Económica para América Latina, January 1966), 14. 39 Renato A. Salazar [sic], “Posibilidades de establecimiento de la industria del aluminio en Chile,” Revista Chilena de Ingeniería, March-April 1961. 40 Ricardo Ffrench-Davis et al., “The Industrialization of Chile during Protectionism, 1940-82,” in An Economic History of Twentieth-Century Latin America. Vol. 3. Industrialization and the State in Latin America: The Postwar Years, ed. Enrique Cárdenas, José Antonio Ocampo, and Rosemary Thorp (London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2000), 127. 41 Ramón Valderas Ojeda, “Plan de desarrollo del Río Baker, provincia de Aysén (exposición ante autoridades del Colegio de Ingenieros de Chile),” December 23, 1973, 1, CIREN-CEDOC; CCDA, “Memoria de un año de actividades: junio de 1975” (Santiago, Chile: Comisión Coordinadora para el Desarrollo de Aisén, 1975), 1, CORFO-BC. 80    Pascua, transforming the rural economy of Aysén and, by Valderas’ estimates, almost tripling the local population (then around 48,850). As Valderas told engineer colleagues at a meeting in Santiago in late December 1973, the project was “a true colonization enterprise” in a region that was still geographically, economically and politically isolated from the rest of Chile.42 How did a project modeled after a global symbol of state-led development like the TVA come to the attention of the military regime? 43 The official reports and documents barely discuss the development scheme in the context of the regime’s political goals, apart from the occasional general statement on territorial integration and Aysén’s relative underdevelopment compared to central Chile.44 The broader political, geopolitical and economic context offers some additional hints. The most active years for the project coincided with a turbulent period in the regime’s history, both internally and externally. Until 1978, the junta kept Chile under a permanent state of siege as it carried out a brutal campaign of repression against Allende’s supporters and all other perceived opponents. The officers who planned the coup had sought to end Allende’s “road to socialism,” which they blamed for plunging the country into economic and political crisis. Yet there was little consensus within the military leadership as to what economic program should replace Allende’s. The resulting policy vacuum eventually produced a split between officers with statist inclinations and those who favored the monetarist, laissez-faire program offered up by the Chicago Boys. This ideological divide also paralleled a personal animosity and power struggle between two high-ranking members of the junta, Air Force Gen. Gustavo Leigh and Army commander Gen. Augusto Pinochet.45 Although Pinochet and the Chicago Boys would prevail by the end of the decade, the initially unresolved questions around the regime’s economic policies likely provided a temporary window to pursue a Patagonian TVA. The proposal would have appealed to the statist officers, who favored maintaining an active state presence in strategic sectors of the economy. More generally, it dovetailed with the regime’s doctrine of national security, which in the military “cosmovision” was implicitly linked to economic development. Although a rabid anti-Marxist, Leigh was a key member of the statist officers, who adhered to a developmentalist tradition in the military dating back to the dictatorship of Carlos Ibáñez del Campo in the 1920s. The statist officers also preferred a gradualist approach to liberalizing the economy and were  42 Valderas Ojeda, “Plan de Desarrollo,” 4. The population figure is from the 1970 census. Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas, “Población total país, del XIV Censo de Población y III de Vivienda” (Santiago, Chile: Government of Chile, 1970), 11. 43 On the TVA as a global model of development, see David Ekbladh, “‘Mr. TVA’: Grass-Roots Development, David Lilienthal, and the Rise and Fall of the Tennessee Valley Authority as a Symbol for U.S. Overseas Development, 1933-1973,” Diplomatic History 26, no. 3 (2002): 335–74. 44 E.g., CCDA, “Memoria de un año,” 1. 45 See Verónica Valdivia Ortiz de Zárate, “Estatismo y neoliberalismo: un contrapunto militar. Chile, 1973-1979,” Historia 34 (2001): 167–226; Peter Winn, “The Pinochet Era,” in Victims of the Chilean Miracle: Workers and Neoliberalism in the Pinochet Era, 1973-2002, ed. Peter Winn (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), 14–70. 81    skeptical of the shock therapy prescriptions advocated by the Chicago Boys.46 An advisory council of high-ranking military officials served as an outlet for those statist views, some of which filtered into a policy document written by members of the council and published in March 1974. For instance, the document outlined an industrial policy in which the government would create, promote and stimulate strategic manufacturing sectors to improve Chile’s trade balance and absorb surplus labor in the agricultural sectors.47 Leigh also brought in Raúl Sáez, the former ENDESA executive and, not to mention, a former student of Harnecker’s, to advise the junta on economic matters. In addition to his involvement in the state power company, Sáez also had ties to the Christian Democratic Party and had occupied several ministerial posts – including a stint as the vice president of CORFO – during the administration of Frei, who, like many in his party, was initially supportive of but later opposed the military junta. The advisory committee and Sáez often clashed with the Chicago Boys, who had formed a nucleus of power at the state planning agency, ODEPLAN. When Sáez was demoted to a less influential position, it reportedly provoked a heated argument between Pinochet and Leigh, who was himself forced to resign in 1978.48 It is unclear if Sáez, who stopped working with the junta in 1975, had a direct hand in CORFO’s Aysén scheme. However, he did correspond about the project with the retired but not inactive Harnecker, who had closely followed developments in Aysén. In a speech at ENDESA’s Santiago offices in 1974, Harnecker argued that market conditions were ideal for such a project, which would alleviate unemployment, one of Chile’s “chronic ills.”49 Later, when it became evident that the project was stalling, a disappointed Harnecker wrote to Sáez: “I would also like very much for you to intervene in the Aysén complex, with its top-quality carbide, aluminum, fertilizer, ferro-alloy and steel industries. Three million kW of cheap power can go a long way, and we must encourage the right creative vision and avoid painful blunders.”50 Unresolved tensions with Argentina over the Patagonian border had also returned Aysén to the national spotlight during the 1960s and 1970s, highlighting the geostrategic importance of the region’s economic development and integration with the rest of Chile. After the coup, these geopolitical priorities became clear after the regime initiated a territorial reorganization known as regionalization, a process that was  46 Valdivia Ortiz de Zárate, “Estatismo y Neoliberalismo,” 206–206, 209–10. On the developmentalist tradition in the military, see Verónica Valdivia Ortiz de Zárate, “Fuerzas armadas y políticas. Los jóvenes oficiales de los años sesenta: 1960-1973,” Contribuciones Científicas y Tecnológicas 127 (2001): 57–105. 47 “Líneas de Acción de la Junta de Gobierno de Chile,” in Junta de Gobierno, “Primer año de la reconstrucción nacional” (Santiago, Chile: Government of Chile, 1974), 87–108, BN-MC. See also Valdivia Ortiz de Zárate, “Estatismo y Neoliberalismo,” 188; Winn, “The Pinochet Era,” 62. 48The head of ODEPLAN at the time, Roberto Kelly Vásquez, many years later recalled this argument, as well as the general tensions between Sáez and the Chicago Boys. See interview with Kelly in “Las memorias del 'padre' de los Chicago Boys,” Qué Pasa (Santiago), 31 Dec. 2005. See also Valdivia Ortiz de Zárate, “Estatismo y Neoliberalismo,” 197; Winn, “The Pinochet Era,” 25. 49 The text of the speech appears in “Homenaje: reconocimiento a Guillermo Moore M. y a Reinaldo Harnecker v K.,” ENDESA, No. 215, June-July 1974. 50 The correspondence between Sáez and Harnecker is mentioned and quoted in Sáez S., “Don Reinaldo y la ENDESA,” 29. 82    itself fraught with competing political concerns and ideological currents. In practice, regionalization redrew Chile’s political administrative divisions, consolidating the 23 provinces into 13 regions. In Aysén, the new divisions extended the northern boundary and moved its capital inland from Puerto Aysén to Coyhaique, by then the largest city (and closer to the border). The broad aim of this territorial policy was economic and political decentralization, inspired in part by a regional planning approach popularized during the Frei administration. While the targeted approach of regional planning did not mesh with the laisse-faire principles of the Chicago Boys, the military regime’s doctrine of national security was amenable to special considerations for geopolitically sensitive areas such as Aysén. In a 1973 report, a group of regional planning specialists at ODEPLAN noted that “empty spaces” of underdevelopment and excessive industrial concentration created vulnerabilities in the event of war. Moreover, they argued, Chile’s social and economic centralization encouraged rural migration to urban shantytowns, potential hotbeds of subversive activity.51 Populating an empty space of geostrategic importance like Aysén would thus sap the power bases of organized labor, a target for some of the military’s harshest repressive measures. In the end, the regime’s authoritarianism prevented a true break from the entrenched centralism in the Chilean political system, and the ascendance of the Chicago Boys quashed efforts to enact regional planning policies.52 Yet the region of Aysén continued to receive special treatment by the regime, which sponsored the first highway connection to the north in the 1970s-80s. As local historian Mateo Martinic has noted, from the late 1970s onward Aysén became, in the junta’s eyes, “a space of national security where it had to assert sovereignty and control.”53 The Aysén electro-industrial scheme fit into this broader pattern. CORFO included the project in a portfolio of development programs presented to the junta’s southern boundary authorities in 1974. In the cover sheet, the corporation noted that the lack of job opportunities was driving workers in Aysén and other southern territories to seek employment in Argentina, whose government had implemented its own industrial decentralization policies to counter labor organizing and populate its Patagonian territories.54 A statement issued by Pinochet in conjunction with the July 1974 decree initiating the regionalization process reiterated the concerns about “empty spaces” and explained that Aysén was one of several pilot cases selected for the new territorial organization, a point that CORFO’s Aysén commission emphasized  51 Extracts from the unpublished report appear in Sergio Boisier, “Chile: la vocación regionalista del gobierno militar,” EURE 26, no. 77 (2000): 87–89. Boisier oversaw the team which produced this report.  52 Estefane, “Estado y ordenamiento territorial.” See also Federico Arenas, “El Chile de las regiones: una historia inconclusa,” Estudios Geográficos 70, no. 266 (2009): 11–39. 53 Martinic Beros, De la Trapananda al Aysén, 651. 54 This portfolio is held as a binder of documents in the library at CORFO’s downtown Santiago office. The binder is undated, but is likely from October 1974. CORFO, “Programas y proyectos para la zona austral” (Santiago, Chile: Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, n.d.), CORFO-BC. On Chilean migration to Argentina, see Gonzalo Pérez Álvarez, “El aporte de la migración chilena a la formación de una nueva clase obrera en el noreste de Chubut: 1956-1989,” Cuadernos de Historia, no. 43 (2015): 59–81. 83    the following year in its first report on the electro-industrial scheme.55 Studies commissioned for the project envisioned the industrial development of Aysén attracting thousands of new workers. Feeding and housing the new workforce, it was hoped, would spur secondary services and industries to support the booming industrial towns, while upgrades to Aysén’s barebones transportation networks would connect the factories and new urban centers with central Chile (and local and global markets for its products).56 Chilean geopolitical concerns in Aysén extended not only to the flow of people but also, more literally, to the flow of water across the border. As part of renewed border negotiations that began in 1971, high-level officials met to discuss the joint management of transboundary water resources. That year, the Chilean and Argentinian foreign ministers signed the Acta de Santiago, a preliminary agreement that outlined basic principles of equitable water use and conservation, derived from a mostly unenforceable body of international water law. The agreement established terms for sharing scientific data, river development plans and project blueprints. Building on informal agreements between ENDESA and Argentina’s federal power company, the ministers also agreed to create a joint commission on water resources, which met in September that year.57 The joint commission was short lived, and no substantial progress was made on transnational water issues until the 1990s. But its existence does signal that Chilean planners were paying attention to developments across the border. In 1973, Valderas held up Argentina as an example of a country “less endowed” in water resources than Chile but which was nonetheless undertaking an ambitious hydropower construction program.58 At the time, Argentina’s federal government was sponsoring a series of large dams on the Limay and Neuquén rivers to irrigate its northern Patagonian provinces and to produce power for the rapidly growing national market. Farther south, the federal power company was building a dam and electrical station on the Futaleufú River, which flows into Chile, to power an aluminum smelter on the Atlantic coast.59 In the early 1970s, ENDESA staff periodically crossed the border to verify streamflow measurements on the Futaleufú and also studied a transboundary tie-in to the Argentinian power project.60 In January 1972, personnel from ENDESA and the Chilean water agency surveyed five transboundary  55 “Manifiesto del presidente de la junta del gobierno y jefe supremo de la nación, Don Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, con motivo de la iniciación del proceso de regionalización del país. 11-7-1974.,” Revista de Derecho Público, no. 16 (1974): 97–110; CCDA, “Memoria de un año,” 1. 56 CONTEC, “Prefactibilidad general del desarrollo de Aisén: estudio preliminar” (Santiago, Chile: Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, November 1974), 66–72, CORFO-BC; Zygmunt Slawinski, “El programa de desarrollo integral de Aysén: Esquema del estudio del programa” (Santiago: Oficina de Planificación Agrícola, May 1974), 23–29, 35–41, CORFO-BC. It is not clear if the second report cited here was commissioned by CORFO or another state agency. 57 “Acta de Santiago sobre Cuencas Hidrológicas,” 26 June 1971, retrieved from FAOLEX Database: http://www.fao.org/faolex/results/details/en/c/LEX-FAOC180339 (accessed 12/25/2020); Samuel Fernández Illanes, “La integración de Chile y Argentina: un largo proceso en marcha,” Revista Chilena de Derecho 17, no. 2 (1990): 373–403. 58 Valderas Ojeda, “Plan de Desarrollo,” 4. 59 Andrés Ghía, Bicentenario de la Argentina: historia de la energía eléctrica 1810-2010 (Buenos Aires: FODECO, 2012), 56–57, 61–63; Marcelo Rougier, Estado y empresarios de la industria del aluminio en la Argentina: el caso ALUAR (Buenos Aires: Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, 2011), chap. 5. 60 On streamflow verification, see Directorio de ENDESA, Acta No. 632, 11 Jan. 1972, Fondo CORFO, vol. 4836, ARNAD. On the Futaleufú tie-in, see Fernández Illanes, “La integración de Chile y Argentina,” 386. 84    basins in the south. The survey, which appears in an ENDESA report marked confidential, involved aerial flyovers – including of Lake Gen. Carrera in the Baker Basin – and field surveys in both countries, as well as a trip to the Futaleufú construction site.61 The report’s authors also examined technical publications by Argentinian engineers in an effort to deduce future development plans. As most of the southern transboundary watersheds drained into the Pacific, the fear was that Argentina would divert water across the continental divide into projects on the Atlantic side, effectively siphoning energy away from Chile. On the Baker and Pascua rivers, where no immediate projects were planned at the time on either side of the border, the threat was less urgent compared to several projects in the north, especially considering that less than 5% of the energy potential of each basin depended on water originating across the border.62 However, the report did make note of an Argentine proposal from the 1960s to pump water from Lake Gen. Carrera into the Deseado River for land reclamation and oil and gas extraction, an operation estimated to reduce the Baker’s discharge by 10%.63 Based on aerial observations in 1972, ENDESA was unable to determine the proposal’s feasibility, but the report recommended conducting additional studies in the Baker Basin, as well as the Pascua, which was excluded from the initial survey.64 Factories at the End of the World At first glance, the Aysén electro-industrial scheme, premised on exploiting its rivers for cheaper power, was not altogether different from the ideas first sketched out by Harnecker in the 1940s. The focus then was on substituting imports and stimulating locally oriented manufacturing. The hydroelectric projects on the Laja River, for example, powered a steelworks that produced primarily for domestic consumers, one of the more successful attempts at inward-looking development under CORFO’s guidance. After the 1973 coup, however, the new managers of the Chilean economy reoriented development policy back to export-led growth, a model which Chile, with its continued dependence on copper exports, had never truly left behind. The planning documents produced for the Aysén project reveal some of the internal tensions that arose when a scheme with developmentalist roots was fitted into the revamped model of outward-looking development. For the CORFO engineers, the electro-industrial project was an opportunity to enroll rural Patagonia into a regional development scheme on a scale without precedent in Aysén. During the 1960s, CORFO had  61 ENDESA, “Reconocimientos en cuencas compartidas chileno-argentinas: efectuados en enero, 1972” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., Oficina de Evaluación de Proyectos Hidroeléctricos, 1972), BN-SC. 62 ENDESA, 16, 32. 63 Jorge J.C. Riva, “Notas sobre un racional aprovechamiento de los recursos de agua superficiales del extremo del continente americano, entre los paralelos 38° y 49°S,” in Water for Peace, Vol. 8: Planning and Developing Water Programs (The International Conference on Water for Peace (May 23-31, 1967), Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1967), 594–610. 64 ENDESA, “Reconocimientos en cuencas compartidas,” 27–29. 85    provided loans to small agricultural and fishery projects and also bought into a lead mine near Lake Gen. Carrera. All of these were small-scale endeavors, and none introduced fundamental changes in the structure of the local economy, based on livestock and fishing. The electro-industrial scheme would install new technologies on a scale never before seen in Aysén, or in the rest of Chile for that matter. The principal product was aluminum, but planners also considered plastic polymers, fertilizers, steel, ferro-alloys, ammonia and cellulose, among other products. Moreover, the project would ultimately install massive power plants, with a capacity roughly equivalent to all of the 2,620 MW then operating throughout Chile, in a region with just 8 MW in operation as of 1975.65 As Valderas himself acknowledged in late 1973, the project, with an estimated price tag of US$1.42 billion (for both the industrial and hydroelectric components), was an audacious undertaking, even when compared with the large-scale copper mining operations to the north.66 In 1974, CORFO’s New York office arranged for two former TVA engineers to visit Santiago in November on a technical assistance mission. The TVA was one of the early inspirations for the Chilean approach to electrification, as we saw in Chapter 2. While CORFO technicians had spent months visiting the TVA’s facilities in the 1940s, the technical assistance mission to Chile in the 1970s was relatively brief. The two engineers remained in the capital, writing up a short report based on interviews with CORFO’s and ENDESA’s staff and extracts from a prefeasibility study under contract with a Chilean firm. They had high praise for the technical knowledge and skills of ENDESA’s personnel, as well as CORFO’s agronomists and planners. They were less sanguine about the prospects of a Patagonian TVA. At the time of the original TVA’s creation in the United States, they noted, a large population already resided in the Tennessee River Valley, which was also relatively close to other regions of comparatively higher economic development. Neither of these conditions existed in Aysén, making the proposed scheme a riskier endeavor. Nevertheless, they concluded, the similarities between Aysén and the Tennessee Valley were enough to merit a “good try.”67 Chilean planners themselves were under no illusions about the challenges of establishing heavy industry in an isolated region with minimal infrastructure. As some of the early studies noted, the industrial plants in the Aysén complex might be better served if located to the north, where other large hydro projects could still be developed.68 Later in 1977, an in-depth study of the industrial park commissioned from the French infrastructure agency BCEOM, which partnered with a local Chilean consultancy, also questioned whether the mountainous coastline of Aysén offered any truly usable sites for building an industrial port.  65 ENDESA, “Producción y consumo 1986,” 35, 88. 66 Valderas Ojeda, “Plan de Desarrollo,” 4. 67 Walter F. Emmons and George P. Palo, “Review by Team from the Tennessee Valley Authority of Plans for Development of the Aysen Region of Chile” (Santiago, Chile: Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, 1974), 2–3, 5–8, 15, CORFO-BC. 68 CONTEC, “Prefactibilidad general,” 64; Slawinski, “Desarrollo integral de Aysén,” 11. 86    The Franco-Chilean authors also sought to temper some of the high modernist expectations for the project, noting that primary industries such as aluminum generated relatively few jobs.69 Instead, the biggest impact would be seen in Chile’s trade balance once the project added a new stream of export earnings. This observation highlights a key difference from earlier iterations: Although it had the trappings of a regional development project, the new electro-industrial scheme also sought to insert Aysén into the global market based on the comparative advantage of the cheap energy available in the Baker and Pascua rivers. This strategy, although likely a reflection of the rising influence of Chicago Boys at the ODEPLAN, who participated indirectly in the project, also responded to the shifting geography of the global aluminum market in the 1970s, changes which some of the Aysén project studies noted explicitly.70 Stricter environmental regulations and the rising cost of electricity in industrialized nations were propelling firms to relocate smelter capacity to developing regions, where labor costs were lower and cheap energy sources remained abundant. The oil shocks of the 1970s further accelerated this process.71 One Chilean study even predicted a supply crunch in the global aluminum market by 1977.72 Taking advantage of this propitious moment, CORFO aimed to shop out the industrial component of the Aysén project to foreign investors. Such an approach was not entirely outside the realm of its past experiences. The steelworks project near Concepción, for example, was established with the assistance of U.S. consultants and funded through a mix of public and private capital; CORFO eventually ceded control of the mill to private investors. In the case of the Aysén, it seems that Japanese firms were the prime targets for the project. At the time, Japan was at the forefront of the aluminum industry’s overseas expansion in the developing world, pursuing a strategy of establishing joint-ventures with state firms to secure raw materials for its burgeoning industries at home.73 Japan’s overseas development agency, JICA, sent several delegations of experts to Aysén to assist ENDESA with hydro studies during the 1970s, although its participation ended when the project did not advance any further. Southern Waterpowers Revisited The JICA experts were part of a cadre of state institutions, private consultancies and international development practitioners that assisted ENDESA with revising its studies of the Baker and Pascua rivers from the 1940s. The company undertook the revisions at the request of CORFO’s Aysén development  69 BCEOM and CADE Consultores, “Estudio electroindustrial de Aisén: informe final, Vol. 4 – Síntesis de conclusiones y evaluación económica” (Santiago, Chile: Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, 1977), 4, 9, 12–13, 43, CORFO-BC. 70 See. e.g., Slawinski, “Desarrollo integral de Aysén,” 46; CCDA, “Memoria de un año,” 11. 71 Bunker and Ciccantell, “The Evolution of the World Aluminum Industry,” 49–50. 72 Sergio Almarza A. and Gonzalo Hevia M., “Análisis del mercado mundial del aluminio primario” (Santiago, Chile: Comisión Coordinadora para el Desarrollo de Aisén, November 1974), 29, CORFO-BC. 73 Isabel Marques, “Industrial Organization and Supply Policy in the Japanese Aluminum Industry,” in States, Firms, and Raw Materials: The World Economy and Ecology of Aluminum, ed. Brad Barham, Stephen G. Bunker, and Denis O’Hearn (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994), 238–60. 87    commission in 1974, rather than at its own initiative. Recently, however, it had sent a team of surveyors in 1973 to collect topographic data in the Baker Valley. It is unclear if the new survey was a continuation of the transboundary studies from earlier in the decade, or if it responded to other objectives. Regardless, it served to reaffirm the viability of the projects on the Baker.74 For the studies requested by CORFO, ENDESA organized new expeditions to the Baker and Pascua between 1974 and 1976 and submitted updated prefeasibility studies to CORFO shortly after. The authors of the new studies claimed to have introduced only minor variations from the projects first outlined in the 1940s, although this is hard to verify without access to the original documents.75 By this time, ENDESA had established a firmer foothold in Aysén. In 1961, it completed a 2 MW hydro station on the Arredondo tributary of the Aysén River to supply power for a small system linking Puerto Aysén, Coyhaique and other northern towns.76 ENDESA eventually built backup diesel generators across the system to ensure continuity in the winter, when high winds and floods frequently knocked over transmission towers.77 It also installed isolated diesel plants in the towns around Lake Gen. Carrera and in the Baker Valley. While the Aysén systems were minuscule compared to the northern networks, they were not inconsequential. When executives traveled to Puerto Cisnes to inaugurate a 60 kW diesel generator in 1968, the company newsletter claimed, perhaps with some exaggeration, that several residents of the town had never before seen a lightbulb.78 The Aysén systems also had material connections to the northern systems. Many of the diesel units installed by ENDESA were repurposed from northern power stations. For example, two 200 kW generators began their operating lives in Arica near the Peruvian border in the far north, probably in the 1950s or earlier; provided auxiliary power during the construction of the Rapel dam near Santiago in the 1960s; and finally made their way to Puerto Aysén in 1969.79 Despite these inroads, the remoteness of Aysén still presented obstacles for the engineers, geologists, hydrologists and topographers returning in the mid-1970s. This was especially true in the Pascua watershed, still mostly untouched by earlier waves of colonization. Around 1975, ENDESA personnel reported that 20 colonists lived around the river’s delta, while the upper basin was uninhabited.80 The closest permanent settlement was Villa O’Higgins, founded in 1966 on the northern shore of Lake O’Higgins. A small airstrip was located near Villa O’Higgins and another on the lake’s southern shore,  74 I was unable to locate the 1973 report, which is discussed briefly in ENDESA, “Informe, 1a. parte,” 5. 75 ENDESA, 3. 76 “Aisén, Coyhaique y Puerto Chacabuco se iluminarán con energía de la ENDESA a fines del presente año,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 67, February 1960. 77 “Central de emergencia elimina contingencias climáticas en Coyhaique,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 155, November 1967. 78 “Coyhaique y Puerto Cisnes celebran la llegada de la luz,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 159, April 1968 79 “Otras luces se encienden en Aisén,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 172, June 1969. 80 ENDESA, “Proyecto de desarrollo hidroeléctrico de los ríos Baker y Pascua: informe de prefactibilidad, segunda parte” (Santiago, Chile: Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, April 1976), 15, CORFO-BA. 88    near a police garrison. From the airstrips, one could reach the headwaters by crossing the lake, but it was impossible to descend the upper basin by boat. The delta, in turn, remained accessible only through the coastal fjords. This posed various logistical challenges. Supplies for the ENDESA field teams in the 1970s were shipped from Puerto Montt on boats that sailed down to the delta, where they were unloaded and transported upstream by boat or on foot.81 There was a rudimentary airstrip near the delta, but the marshy terrain made it unsuitable for landing when it rained, which occurred often. During the 1974-75 summer season, ENDESA built two provisional landing strips – one at the confluence of the Quetru River in the middle basin, the other at the Quiroz tributary farther upstream near the headwaters. Company personnel, assisted by conscripts from the army regiment stationed in Coyhaique, also cut a footpath up the steep upper basin canyon, from the Quetru to the Quiroz confluence. In some places, the footpath followed the same route used by the boundary expedition at the turn of the century, and ENDESA personnel reported finding traces of campsites and bridges left behind more than 70 years ago.82 The work was arduous and challenging. The company newsletter, playing up the adventurous nature of the expedition, described the river valley as an inhospitable landscape with plagues of mosquitos and flocks of aggressive condors.83 The harsh but beautiful landscape around the Pascua River seems to have struck a chord with ENDESA personnel, reinforcing the notion of Patagonia as “virgin” natural space. The feasibility report included a passage on the “beautiful vistas” around a series of waterfalls near the headwaters. Its authors also wrote evocative descriptions – for a technical document – of marshy floodplains and dense rainforests near the delta and thickets of native cypresses along the canyon walls in the upper basin. They also remarked on the pristine nature they encountered: “What is most striking about the Pascua Basin is its virgin state. The typically destructive actions of humans are barely perceptible here, thanks to [the basin’s] isolation and the prevailing inclemency of the climate, which make it difficult to cultivate crops and raise livestock.”84 In the more heavily settled Baker Valley, by contrast, ENDESA personnel criticized the unchecked deforestation by colonists seeking to open new pastures for livestock: “They have exhausted what might have been a significant source of wealth for the region’s development and caused erosion that removes the topsoil and triggers landslides in the valley.”85 The Japanese experts also reported finding the remains of recently burned trees in the Baker Valley. The better-preserved forests along the Pascua, they observed,  81 CCDA, “Memoria de un año,” 8. 82 ENDESA, “Informe, 1a. parte,” 5–6; ENDESA, “Informe, 2a. parte,” 23–26. 83 “Aysén: La ‘tierra del futuro.’” 84 ENDESA, “Informe, 2a. parte,” 19, 22–23. 85 ENDESA, “Informe, 1a. parte,” 22. 89    made the basin less accessible but, paradoxically, improved the river’s hydrological conditions for power development.86 Ranchers in Aysén had cleared an estimated 3.5 million hectares of native forest between 1930 and 1952.87 By the late 1960s, scientists inventorying the province’s resources for CORFO painted a troubling picture of ecological degradation and fragility, caused by a combination of rampant deforestation and the particularities of the local landscape and weather. Soils were formed by a one- to two-meter layer of ash and gravel deposited on top of a geologically distinct bedrock, smoothed down by glacial abrasion. Removing the tree cover exposed the loose volcanic topsoil to the constant rains and winds, which quickly uncovered the bedrock, rendering the terrain inhospitable for new tree growth.88 The CORFO scientists warned that indiscriminate burning threatened to impoverish Aysén’s natural wealth and disrupt its “ecological equilibrium,” with attendant effects on the province’s economic development: “The results are in plain sight: a stagnant economy, flooding on downhill plots, channel siltation and material losses of all kinds,” especially around the Aysén River.89 Given the limited hydrometric data available in the 1960s, the CORFO scientists could only speculate about the degradation’s impact on the hydrological cycle.90 The ENDESA engineers faced a similar problem in the 1970s as previous efforts to record streamflow and precipitation had produced less than ideal results. In the case of the Pascua, the long trek to the headwaters and bad weather prevented company personnel from taking consistent readings of the stream gauge instruments installed in 1961, resulting in a truncated and irregular dataset.91 That station was eventually abandoned by the end of the 1960s, and new instruments were not installed until the mid-1970s. In the meantime, ENDESA’s understanding of the basin’s climate depended on observations by locals who frequented the headwaters or lived at the river mouth.92 The readings for the two hydrometric stations on the Baker were more consistent, but still provided a relatively shortened account of the river’s flow regime since they had been installed only in the early 1960s. As a partial remedy, ENDESA hydrologists extrapolated flow data for both rivers back to 1940 using precipitation measurements taken elsewhere in Aysén.93  86 JICA, “Preliminary Report on the Development of the Baker and the Pascua River in the Republic of Chile” (Tokyo: Japan International Cooperation Agency, 1975), 12. 87 Víctor Quintanilla P., José A. Cadiñanos, and Pedro J. Lozano, “Degradaciones actuales en ecosistemas Nordpatagónicos de Chile, derivadas de los incendios de bosques durante el siglo pasado,” Tiempo y Espacio 21 (2008): 6–24. 88 IREN, “Informe No. 20: Provincia de Aisén, inventario preliminar de los recursos naturales, Tomo 1” (Santiago, Chile: Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Naturales, CORFO, October 1966), 7, 96–97, CIREN-CEDOC. 89 IREN, 49, 98–100; IREN, “Informe No. 15, 2a. etapa: Reconocimiento de recursos naturales, Región Continental de Aysén” (Santiago, Chile: Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Naturales, CORFO, Sección Forestal, 1968), sec. III-B, CIREN-CEDOC. 90 IREN, “Informe No. 15, 2a. etapa,” sec. III:B. 91 Carlos Meier S., “Instalaciones en la zona de Aysén y Magallanes,” in Charlas – 9a. reunión anual de la división hidrología (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., 1964), 11: 4–6. 92 ENDESA, “Informe, 2a. parte,” 32–34. 93 ENDESA, “Informe, 1a. parte,” 39–41; ENDESA, “Informe, 2a. parte,” 36. 90    In the revised study, the hydroelectric stations – two on the Baker, three on the Pascua – had a combined installed capacity of 2,600 MW. For the Baker, ENDESA evaluated three possible configurations – one involving a single large dam at El Saltón (Saltón San Carlos in Figure 13 at the end of this chapter), the other two involving a smaller dam at El Saltón and a second plant upriver at the Chacabuco site. The JICA experts also identified two alternative sites nearby, citing concerns with the geological stability and seismic risks of El Saltón and Chacabuco.94 A central concern for ENDESA was limiting the dam reservoir’s zone of influence to Chilean territory, thereby avoiding the need for an international treaty with Argentina. This had implications for both the plant design, particularly the height of the dam wall, and the future operation of the reservoirs. To avoid repercussions in Argentina, the engineers favored designs that kept Lake Gen. Carrera within its maximum height and did not cause its water levels to fluctuate irregularly. Based on these criteria, for example, the ENDESA engineers ruled out the single dam option, which would have flooded the entire upper basin and its valleys, merging Lake Gen. Carrera with Cochrane Lake, located in a lateral valley.95 In the best option on the Baker, the reservoir of the Saltón dam would flood 7,000 hectares in the middle basin, impacting the livelihoods of residents in the town of Cochrane who pastured livestock along the riverbank. The study authors recommended installing fish farms in the reservoir as a partial replacement for the lost income, but did not seem particularly concerned with the impacts. The Saltón reservoir also required relocating up to 300 settlers living in the valley of the Colonia River, a tributary originating at a glacial lake to the west. As the settlers could be moved to Cochrane, the ENDESA personnel deemed this a straightforward solution.96 By this same standard, relocating the handful of settlers in the Pascua Basin would be even easier, and social impacts barely figured into the engineering considerations for that river. Instead, the primary concern was, again, avoiding flooding on the Argentinian side of Lake O’Higgins, which placed similar restrictions on the technical dimensions of the Pascua dams.97 Operating the dams to supply a constant industrial load could also stabilize both rivers, reclaiming the delta floodplains for industrial development and protecting the future factories from flooding.98 It seems reasonable to assume that by the 1970s ENDESA had considered a northern interconnection from Aysén to the Central Valley, but had ruled out such an endeavor for technical or economic reasons. In the mid-1960s, for instance, Renato Salazar, by then the company’s general manager, commented to  94 These two alternative sites were later enrolled into the HidroAysén scheme in the 2000s. JICA, “Preliminary Report on the Baker and Pascua River Hydroelectric Development Project, Vol. 1 – Baker River” (Tokyo: Japan International Cooperation Agency, 1976), 4–6. The JICA consultants also proposed an alternative site on the Pascua to maximize use of the river’s waters, but it appears as though this option was discarded since it would have flooded a valley that provided access to the main basin from the north. JICA, “Preliminary Report on the Baker and Pascua River Hydroelectric Development Project, Vol. 2 – Pascua River” (Tokyo: Japan International Cooperation Agency, 1976), 4.  95 ENDESA, “Informe, 1a. parte,” 11–12, 89, Figura V-2. 96 ENDESA, 16–17. 97 ENDESA, “Informe, 2a. parte,” 13, 15, 45. 98 ENDESA, “Informe, 1a. parte,” 14; ENDESA, “Informe, 2a. parte,” 14. 91    the press that interconnections with the far north and far south – beyond the service area of the central grid – could not be justified due to the long distances and minimal energy demand.99  In the reports it produced for CORFO in the 1970s, ENDESA focused solely on transporting power from the hydro stations to the local factories, exploring alternative routes through the fjords and river valleys, a process complicated by the undefined location of the industrial complex.100 Some of the other consultants hired by CORFO briefly considered a long-distance line but quickly ruled it out as prohibitively expensive, while diplomatic tensions with Argentina and the large hydro developments across the border precluded any serious consideration of a transboundary link. To pave the way for an eventual inter-tie to the northern systems, the TVA engineers suggested a more gradual approach to developing Aysén’s water resources, beginning with a smaller site on the Ibáñez River, a tributary of Lake Gen. Carrera. The size of the 50 MW plant, they noted, was better suited to ENDESA’s base-case demand forecast for Aysén, which did not yet include the large industrial projects.101 Outside of CORFO’s plans for the region, it seems that the planners at ENDESA had adopted a similarly gradualist outlook for Aysén, suggesting that the new generation of leadership did not share their predecessors’ electro-industrial ambitions. At conferences organized by the professional association of ENDESA engineers in the 1970s, executives emphasized Aysén’s role in the longer-term development of the central grid, contingent on the construction of higher-voltage power lines. In 1974, for example, the head of ENDESA’s hydroelectric project evaluation office told his colleagues that all economically feasible hydro sites on the main system would not be exhausted until 2000, assuming steady demand growth and some complementary thermoelectric developments.102 Two years later, another engineer, imagining the grid at the turn of the century, predicted that the system would not connect to Patagonia until after 2000, once it incorporated 500 kV transmission lines.103 Aysén’s rivers, then, were far-off prospects from ENDESA’s perspective, its participation in the electro-industrial scheme notwithstanding. Yet the region remained an enormous, untapped reservoir of energy. Continued work on the hydro surveys had allowed ENDESA to refine its estimates of Chile’s hydro potential to 18,780 MW by 1973 and 22,300 MW by the mid-1980s, with less than 8% under exploitation in both cases.104 The rivers in Aysén (or Region 6) comprised 32% and 41% of the respective totals, down  99 “Proyectos de Endesa Para la Electrificación,” El Mercurio (Santiago), 19 June 1964, BCN-ARP. 100 ENDESA, “Informe, 1a. parte,” 67–69; ENDESA, “Informe, 2a. parte,” 58–59. 101 Emmons and Palo, “Review,” 6–8. 102 Rodolfo Bennewitz B., “Los recursos hidroeléctricos nacionales y las centrales hidroeléctricas en estudio para satisfacer las demandas de la década 1985-1995,” in Los recursos de agua en Chile y su utilización en la generación de energía eléctrica, ed. AIE (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros de ENDESA, 1974), 317. 103 Vicente Rodríguez U., “Visión del sistema eléctrico chileno en el año 2000,” in La energía eléctrica en Chile: algunos aspectos de la labor de la ENDESA, ed. AIE (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros de ENDESA, 1976), 484. 104 ENDESA, “Catastro de recursos hidroeléctricos de Chile” (Santiago, Chile: Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A., Oficina de Evaluación de Proyectos Hidroeléctricos, December 1973), 37, CIREN-CEDOC; Luis Court M., “Los nuevos proyectos de centrales hidroeléctricas,” in Visión de la ENDESA: ciclo de charlas sobre la ENDESA al cumplir 40 años electrificando el país, ed. AIE (Santiago, Chile: Asociación de Ingenieros 92    from previous estimates but still the largest single agglomeration of hydropower in Chile. Moreover, the excessively high plant factors and constant flow regimes of the Aysén sites caused statistical distortions in overall estimates of utilization rates and climatological impacts on Chile’s hydro resources, making them appear better than in reality (the engineers were aware of this).105 As ENDESA’s head of projects noted in the 1980s, Region 6 was a “repository” of energy awaiting exploitation once northern reserves were exhausted.106 Conclusion By the end of the 1970s, dreams of an electro-industrial Patagonia again lay dormant. A 1980 audit by the World Bank, which had provided some funding for the electro-industrial studies, noted the military regime’s preference for reducing the public sector’s involvement in industry, a sign of the Chicago Boys’ consolidated influence over economic policy.107 The oil shocks and a collapse in copper prices during the 1970s likely further reduced the appetites of both Chilean authorities and foreign investors for large, technically challenging and expensive infrastructure projects. Some two decades later, Valderas attributed the project’s failure to Aysén’s low population and lack of agricultural resources, the limited space for industrial sites on the coast, and the ecological degradation of the basins, namely through deforestation and erosion – echoing many of the concerns expressed by consultants in the 1970s.108 The years in the aftermath of the coup were also a turbulent time within CORFO, which lost its quasi-ministerial rank and cycled through management and personnel. To the regime’s neoliberal advisors, CORFO embodied the statist excesses of the Allende government and they targeted it accordingly; at the end of the dictatorship, most of its state corporations had been privatized, including ENDESA, and its role had been reduced to providing credit for the private sector.109 But the Baker and Pascua projects lived on. In the 1990s, the privatized ENDESA partnered with Japanese and Australian investors in an unsuccessful attempt to build an aluminum smelter powered by a single hydro station on the Baker, a proposal that encountered resistance from salmon farmers, who had moved into Aysén during the same decade. In 2005, the multi-dam scheme was revived as HidroAysén, this time with a proposed 2,000-kilometer HVDC transmission line running north to a substation outside of Santiago. Project opponents seized on the transmission line,  de ENDESA, 1984), 3: 1–4. For similar reasons as outlined in Footnote 32, these figures cannot be directly compared to previous estimates, but they still illustrate the broader point. 105 Bennewitz B., “Los recursos hidroeléctricos,” 312, 315. 106 Court M., “Los nuevos proyectos,” 3: 1. 107 World Bank, “Project Performance Audit Report Chile--Technical Assistance Project (Loan 978-CH)” (Washington, DC, August 22, 1980). 108 Ramón Valderas Ojeda, “Economía regional y desarrollo rural,” Anales de la Universidad de Chile, no. 5 (1997). 109 Valdivia Ortiz de Zárate, “Estatismo y Neoliberalismo,” 199–202, 204; Ricardo Nazer Ahumada, Pablo Camus Gayan, and Ignacio Muñoz Delaunoy, Historia de la Corporación de Fomento de la Producción, CORFO: 1939-2009 (Santiago, Chile: Patrimonio Consultores, 2009), 170, 175–76. 93    using images of towers passing through pristine landscapes in their publicity campaigns, to argue that Patagonia was being sacrificed to benefit distant consumers.110 Exploring how earlier projects created discursive and material conditions for the post-dictatorship iterations is beyond the scope of this chapter. Rather, I have traced how a developmentalist project was able to persist and adapt across a major juncture in Chilean history. The origins of the Baker-Pascua projects are found in the era of inward-looking development, when industrial projects were seen as the solution that would break more than a century of dependence on external markets. Yet despite the best efforts of various governments, Chile could not shake the outward linkages of its economy. As historians have observed, achievements in this era of industrial aspirations tended to fall short of expectations. Developing advanced, capital-intensive industries fomented a new dependence on imported technology paid for by exporting raw materials (especially copper) or accruing foreign debt.111 Thus, the central elements of an ostensibly inward-looking project could be later repurposed for an industrial export scheme that would help reinsert Chile – and insert Aysén for the first time – into the world economy. The historical continuities in the Aysén hydro developments are not only limited to political economic ideas, but also include perceptions of its southern environments. The idea that the far south contained an enormous reserve of hydro-energy took root even before ENDESA surveyors first measured and calculated the flows of the Baker and Pascua. This perception endured for decades among government planners, who frequently portrayed Aysén as poor in most resources except for hydropower.112 Early attempts to tap into those reserves left marks on the landscapes of the two basins, but were mostly confined to studies and reports that imagined massive concrete structures amid the glacier-strewn mountains of Patagonia. As the Baker and Pascua were impounded on paper, from the margins they shaped system building occurring on the central grid to the north. From the available sources, it is difficult to establish any direct lines of causality between the ENDESA studies in Aysén and the company’s decisions elsewhere in Chile; the closest connection is found in Aysén’s statistical contributions to the national hydro inventory. Yet even from this tenuous link, it is clear that the Baker and the Pascua helped to promote the view among policymakers and planners that Chile’s only reliable and abundant domestic source of energy was found in its rivers. This idea perhaps is one of the explanations for the decision to continue pursuing hydro development against mounting evidence that the water supply was less reliable and predictable than previously thought, as we saw in Chapter 2. Taking  110 For some examples of these images, see “Patagonia ¡Sin Represas! Una campana de educación pública” (Consejo de Defensa de la Patagonia Chilena, n.d.). 111 See Salazar and Pinto, Historia contemporánea de Chile III, 38–40; Simon Collier and William F Sater, A History of Chile, 1808-2002 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 264–85. 112 Tourism, now a major component of the local economy, would not enter the official discourse until later. Some of the 1970s studies consulted for this chapter mention it in passing. E.g., CONTEC, “Prefactibilidad general,” 25. 94    this further, we can argue that the materiality of a large envirotechnical system is the product not only of its built network but also of its unrealized components. Put another way, such failures leave traces well beyond the spaces where a developer once envisioned transforming the environment.           95              Figure 11 – Aysén Landscape, near Lake Gen. Carrera (1948) Image used with permission of Museo Histórico Nacional de Chile. Photo: Robert Gerstmann 96     Figure 12 – Pascua High Dam A blueprint for a dam on Pascua River, one of the development schemes envisioned during 1970s. The proposed 180-meter dam was sited in the narrow gorge enclosing the upper basin. A second power station was situated downstream just before a curve in the river. ENDESA also considered an alternative scheme (later adopted for HidroAysén) with a 142-meter dam wall and a third plant located farther upriver, near the headwaters. Image used with permission of Corporacion de Fomento de la Producción. Source: ENDESA, Informe, 2da parte, 1976 97     Figure 13 – Aysén Hydro Sites Proposed dam sites on the Baker and Pascua in the 1970s, including two alternatives suggested by JICA experts (Tamango and Saltón Gorge). ENDESA later repurposed the Tamango, Saltón Gorge, San Vicente, Pascua and Huemul sites for HidroAysén. Data from Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile and JAXA’s ALOS Science Program. Approximate locations adapted from JICA, “Preliminary Report,” vols. 1-2, 1976. (Site names differ slightly across primary sources.) Map by Eric Leinberger 98    Ch. 5 – Final Remarks At the end of 1998, Chile was again in the throes of a record-setting drought. With an average 89 millimeters of rainfall across the territory, the year ranked among the three driest in the 20th century, surpassed only by the droughts of 1924 and 1968, as the Dirección Meteorológica reported at the time.1 As press reports noted, the Pacific Ocean phenomenon known as El Niño Southern Oscillation, in its La Niña phase during 1998, had cooled the waters off the coast, leading to a severe decrease in precipitation and straining the power supply on the central grid. In November, the government was forced to ration electricity for nearly two weeks after three power plants went offline due to equipment failures or scheduled maintenance. In December, President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (1994-2000), son of Eduardo Frei Montalva, warned that further power and water rationing would be necessary unless Chileans consumed more responsibly.2 He also had harsh criticism for the power companies, demanding that they free up capacity and build new plants. Nearing the end of his term, Frei was facing a series of economic, political and now ecological crises. It began with a recession, a spillover effect of the 1997 financial crisis in Asia, compounded by student and labor union strikes, as well as protests by Mapuche and environmentalist groups against the Ralco hydroelectric project on the Bío-Bío River. Adding fuel to the fire, in October 1998 Pinochet was arrested in London under an Interpol warrant issued at the request of a Spanish judge, infuriating his supporters on the right, who demanded that the government intervene to ensure the retired general’s safe return. The drought continued into the following year. In March, the director of the national water regulator warned that the Laja and Maule reservoirs did not hold enough water to last until the next year.3 That same month, the energy regulator threatened ENDESA with a fine for allegedly exceeding withdrawal limits at the Laguna del Laja, which the company angrily denied.4 Despite efforts to save energy through voltage regulation on the central grid, another round of rationing began in April, also spurred by technical problems delaying the startup of the Nehuenco combined-cycle gas plant near Valparaíso. As in 1968, the energy crisis revealed the perils of over-dependence on hydro and elicited a public airing of criticisms, in this case directed at the private power companies and the legal and regulatory framework governing the power sector, which the government had left untouched since the return of democracy. The secretary of Frei’s Christian Democratic Party, for instance, called on the government to fine the companies and pause further privatizations of public services until stronger regulatory controls were in place.5 The arrival of the  1 Precipitation figures for the year are found in “Chile-Sequía 1998 fue el tercer año más seco del siglo,” EFE, 3 Jan. 1999. This article, as well as all subsequent citations attributed to EFE (the Spanish news agency), were located using the LexisNexis Academic database. 2 “Frei advierte sobre eventual racionamiento de agua y energía,” EFE, 7 Dec. 1998 3 “A pesar de lluvias, Chile soporta peor sequía en medio siglo,” EFE, 1 March 1999. 4 “Multan a ENDESA con 26.000 dólares por transgredir normativa,” EFE, 8 March 1999. 5 “Piden sanciones para eléctricas a raíz de duro racionamiento,” EFE, 20 April 1999. 99    winter rains finally eased the drought conditions, but tensions with the power companies persisted as the government sought to strengthen oversight of the sector. Those tensions carried over to the next administration as it negotiated the terms of a reform bill with private investors and right-wing parties wary of any deviation from the economic model implemented under Pinochet. Although the different interests intersected and conflicted in complex ways, a central point of contention was, on the one hand, the government’s desire to avoid rationing without raising electricity prices and, on the other, the private sector’s reluctance to commit to new investments without a fair rate of return – a conflict that, in some ways, echoed the “electricity problem” debates of the 1930s.6 Two laws passed in 2004 and 2005 finally cleared the impasse, although not before another round of rationing. This time, the culprit was a natural gas shortage in Argentina in 2004 that led the neighboring government to halt shipments to Chile, which had come to depend on gas imported through trans-Andean pipelines developed since the mid-1990s. Thermoelectric plants and other gas consumers suddenly found themselves cut off; Chile’s energy isolation was rearing its head yet again. As a replacement, the power sector turned to liquefied natural gas (LNG), a more expensive but more flexible fuel source, and later coal to supplement hydroelectric generation. By the early 2010s, electricity prices in Chile were among the highest in the region, a situation attributed to market concentration in the generation business and the high cost of importing LNG and other fuels.7 With new hydro projects becoming increasingly untenable, as the HidroAysén conflict made clear, in 2014 the government again intervened in the power market’s rules to facilitate the incorporation of “unconventional” renewable sources like solar and wind, which the incumbent generators had been slow to adopt. These regulatory changes, along with Chile’s high electricity prices and increasingly aggressive clean generation mandates, opened the doors for a surge of investment that continues to this day. By the mid-2010s, hydroelectric stations were contributing a smaller share of the electricity consumed by Chileans than at any point in the recorded past. In absolute terms, the amount of electricity generated from hydro stations each year had remained more or less constant since 2000, even as total production from all sources nearly doubled over the same period. As a percentage of total annual output, hydro had peaked at around 75% in the 1980s and early 1990s, but then gradually declined following the creation and expansion of a second interconnected network in the north (which primarily burned fossil fuels) and the construction of natural gas-fired power stations on the central grid. By 2015, hydro contributed one- 6 Political responses to the droughts and energy shortages are discussed in Bauer, “Dams and Markets,” 631–38. For contemporary diagnoses of the energy crisis, see Carlos Díaz, Alexander Galetovic, and Raimundo Soto, “La crisis eléctrica de 1998-1999: causas, consecuencias y lecciones,” Estudios Públicos, no. 80 (2000): 149–92; Ricardo Paredes M. and José Manuel Sapag G., Fortalezas y debilidades del marco regulatorio eléctrico chileno: propuestas para un cambio (Santiago, Chile: CIADE, Universidad de Chile, 2001). 7 Javier García Monge and Pamela Delgado, “Análisis de barreras para el desarrollo de energías renovables no convencionales” (Santiago, Chile: Chile Sustentable, July 2011); Sophie von Hatzfeldt, “Renewable Energy in Chile: Barriers and the Role of Public Policy,” Journal of International Affairs 66, no. 2 (2013): 199–209. 100    third of the electricity generated that year, compared to 50% in 1930, just before Chile began its decades-long electrification push (see Figure 14 at the end of this chapter). On the central grid, where hydro had produced upwards of 90% of the annual output since the system first came into being during the 1960s, the decline was slower but still noticeable after the mid-2000s. In 2015, 45% of power produced on the central grid was sourced from hydro (see Figure 15). Underneath this quantitative snapshot of Chile’s energy use over time, however, is a complex history with consequences that extend far beyond the raw energy coursing through the grid. The cases studied in the previous chapters highlight aspects of this history that I would argue are key to understanding the past and present roles of hydroelectricity and electrification in Chile – namely, their importance to the mid-century developmentalist project, the continuities they form with historical periods and processes that both precede and follow the era of state-led industrialization, and the limits of technology’s ability to manipulate and control nature. National electrification was deeply entwined with the industrialization push initiated with the creation of CORFO in 1939. Of course, the damming of rivers did not begin with CORFO; its origins lie in the early period of electrification at the turn of the century. Starting in the 1930s, however, electricity became a central theme for debates about broader economic problems. To the engineers who argued for state intervention in the power sector, the country was squandering its natural resources and leaving key decisions about its economic future in the hands of private and foreign entities. Harnessing rivers for electricity thus signified taking the reins of the economy and guiding it toward objectives that benefited all Chileans. The promoters of electrification who espoused these ideas were clearly influenced by theories of modernization. One can also see seeds of theories of dependency and development that the U.N. economists at CEPAL’s headquarters in Santiago would later elaborate and refine in subsequent decades.8 But the engineers also understood energy as an agent of social and economic change and believed in the power of large systems to organize and streamline the unruly process of development – what Daniela Russ recently described as “energo-materialist economics.”9 From this electro-technical perspective, the solution to the electricity problem and the broader question of industrialization was to build a large network that exploited rivers for power on a greater scale than ever before, subsuming a heterogeneous collection of isolated local systems that were incapable of supporting a national development project. As a former CORFO executive explained many decades later, the power outages afflicting Santiago in the 1940s were a key motivation for broader actions by the state to diversify the economy: “The younger people didn’t live through that, but the older [generations] know that it was these  8 On local precursors to CEPAL theories of dependency, see Gabriel Salazar, “El movimiento teórico sobre desarrollo y dependencia en Chile, 1950-1975: tres estudios históricos y un balance global,” Nueva Historia 1, no. 4 (1982): 3–109. 9 Daniela Russ, “Speaking for the ‘World Power Economy’: Electricity, Energo-Materialist Economics, and the World Energy Council (1924-78),” Journal of Global History 15, no. 2 (2020): 311–29. 101    sorts of things that CORFO was created for.”10 This study thus provides a new perspective on the Chilean developmentalist project, highlighting the role of large technological systems in state-led industrialization. Whereas in the 19th century the railroad connected resources to international markets, the central power grid, following a series of crises in the global capitalist system, attempted to redirect Chile’s resources inward toward a different kind of development project. This study has also shown long-term continuities linking the mid-century phase of state-led industrialization to prior and subsequent historical processes. National electrification carried the post-independence nation-building project into the mid-20th century, further cementing internal core-periphery linkages established over a century’s worth of territorial, economic and political consolidation. While mineral wealth from the north reached Santiago through financial and political networks, energy flowed up from the south through technological networks of turbines and wires. So it was that Laguna del Laja became the storage battery for consumers some 500 kilometers to the north; so it was that rivers across the territory were subordinated to a national project. The central grid permitted a new resource to travel from the periphery toward the capital. As early promoters noted, producing energy from moving water was a materially distinct process compared to extracting minerals from the soil. Both mineral and energy flows, however, were ultimately the product of the large-scale and often unchecked exploitation of nature. In this sense, electrification, while emblematic of a new developmentalist political economy, also perpetuated and even accelerated some aspects of the 19th-century model of development.11 The persistence of that earlier model throughout the 20th century speaks to the deeper historical roots of the present ecological and social problems in Chile, which are often associated with the economic system implanted by the Pinochet regime. In light of the recent constitutional referendum, this deeper history may be of some relevance now that Chileans are looking to the past for inspiration as they rewrite the country’s social contract.12 While a consolidating process, electrification also inherited fundamental tensions and limitations that have marked nation-building in Chile since independence. The decentralized approach of the electrification plan clashed with the centralizing tendency of large power grids, reflecting the long  10 Mario Sarquis Yazigi, quoted in Margarita Serrano and Marcia Scantlebury, “Mario Sarquis Yazigi: el gerente del azúcar,” in Historias personales, políticas públicas, ed. Oscar Muñoz Gomá (Santiago, Chile: Editorial Los Andes-CIEPLAN, 1993), 134. 11 Extractive industries are energy-intensive activities themselves. The energy flows on the Chilean grid often led back to mining operations, as well as paper and pulp mills. Thomas Klubock argues that the appropriation of the commons in Chile’s rivers underwrote its extractivist model of development in the 20th century. Klubock, “The Early History of Water Wars in Chile.” 12 In October 2020, one year after massive protests, Chileans voted overwhelmingly to replace the 1980 constitution, an enduring legacy of the Pinochet dictatorship that enshrines many of the principles undergirding the current economic system. On the historical significance of the plebiscite, see Joshua Frens-String, “Burying Pinochet,” NACLA, 22 Oct. 2020, retrieved from https://nacla.org/news/2020/10/28/burying-pinochet (accessed: 12/25/2020). On environmental justice in the context of the 2019 protests, see Mauricio Folchi, “La lucha por la dignidad y la justicia ambiental,” in Chile despertó. Lecturas desde la Historia del estallido social de octubre, ed. Mauricio Folchi (Santiago, Chile: Universidad de Chile, Unidad de Redes Transdisciplinarias, Vicerrectoría de Investigación y Desarrollo, 2019). 102    struggle to reconcile Chile’s centralist governance structure with its unusual geography.13 The plan, with its seven electrical regions, recognized that waterpower potential was unequally distributed and that localized development approaches were necessary, in some ways presaging later attempts to decentralize the political-administrative structure and pursue regional growth strategies. As those regional systems became parts of a larger network, however, synchronizing their operations to ensure the stability of the grid required instituting centralized controls that ultimately prioritized national over local interests. Whether this tension was of any concern to Chilean system-builders is unclear, but they were not unaware of it. When the first power line connected Abanico to Santiago in 1955, for instance, the publicists behind ENDESA’s monthly newsletter felt compelled to reassure readers that the new interconnection would not reinforce the centralismo of the capital.14 On the other hand, electrification ultimately failed to integrate the farthest peripheral regions from the central grid, at least while ENDESA remained under the state’s control. It is not clear that such a goal was ever an intention, nor is it particularly surprising nor unexpected that the company would focus first on interconnecting the most accessible and densely populated areas. The original plan only vaguely gestured toward a truly national grid incorporating all seven regions. In practice, as we saw in Chapter 4, the grid excluded large parts of the territory, which were ignored for a mix of technical, political and economic reasons. Aysén and Magallanes to this day remain isolated from the national system, while it was not until 2017 that the central grid interconnected with the northern system in the mining regions. But marginality should not be equated with irrelevance. In the process of electrifying the rest of the territory, ENDESA produced marginal spaces that interacted with the system building occurring on the central grid, as we saw in Aysén. The hydro legacies in Aysén also highlight the enduring relevance of the mid-century processes examined in this study. Even as it diminishes in percentage terms, hydro continues to influence Chilean energy politics. The electrification plan produced a host of ancillary studies, designs and ideas that materialized as hydroelectric projects built before, during and after the dictatorship. As the case of HidroAysén illustrates, even the mere perception of southern Patagonia as a reserve of energy – and of Chile as a nation endowed with waterpower resources – has proven to be remarkably durable. Only in the last decade, with the boom in unconventional renewables, have solar and wind power replaced hydropower as the sources most often touted as domestic solutions to Chile’s energy problems.15 Even so, the  13 See Boisier, “Chile”; Estefane, “Estado y ordenamiento territorial.” 14 “La Central Abanico, ubicada en Ñuble, empezó a entregar parte de su producción a Santiago,” Boletín ENDESA, No. 17, April 1955. 15 Under Chilean law, the category of unconventional also includes small and mini hydro projects, which continue to be built in the south. Although materially different from the large dams, the local impacts of these projects are still consequential and therefore controversial. See Kelly, “Megawatts Mask Impacts”; Sarah Kelly-Richards et al., “Governing the Transition to Renewable Energy: A Review of Impacts and Policy Issues in the Small Hydropower Boom,” Energy Policy 101 (2017): 251–64. 103    government remains interested in exploiting untapped hydropower potential in the south, which a 2016 study sponsored by the Energy Ministry estimated to be nearly 16,000 MW.16  Other hydro-legacies are more material in nature. The increasing share of solar and wind energy, for instance, will likely generate additional demands for reservoir storage. Solar and wind are “intermittent” sources whose capacity to produce depends on the available hours of daylight and prevailing weather conditions, both of which are beyond the control of system operators. For the foreseeable future, the waters in Laguna del Laja and other reservoirs will likely remain the only cost-effective means of smoothing out supply fluctuations on the grid.17 Multi-use conflicts may take on a new character as the share of renewables grows. The layout of the grid itself was designed to transport power over long distances from large hydropower plants in the southern Andean hinterlands to urban and industrial centers. The new wind and solar sources are not only located in different regions – the best solar power sites are found in the northern Atacama Desert, for example – but also operate on smaller scales compared to conventional hydroelectric plants, requiring a decentralized system architecture. The central-north inter-tie completed in 2017, for example, was one piece of a larger transmission project to build a 500 kV carretera eléctrica (electric highway) so that wind and solar energy could circulate more freely through the national system.18 Arturo Salazar’s “central nerve,” and the hydro-based system it gave rise to, continue to shape engineering and energy policy in Chile. Put another way, the material histories of energy are just as important for the politics of energy as the current economic and regulatory regimes.19  Lastly, in the preceding chapters, I have explored the social and environmental forces underlying a technical project, revealing how technology, nature and society collide to produce an envirotechnical system. This mutually constitutive process, which blurred the boundaries between technology and nature, extended from the planning stages to the execution of the electrification plan. The technological future outlined in 1943 conformed to an imagined riparian geography that organized Chile into a series of territorial units following a logic of system building and resource maximization. It ultimately sought to unify those distinct regions into a single network, a territory-spanning organic machine that would effect  16 Ministerio de Energía, “Estudio de cuencas: análisis de las condicionantes para el desarrollo hidroeléctrico en las cuencas del Maule Biobío, Toltén, Valdivia, Bueno, Puelo, Yelcho, Palena, Cisnes, Aysén, Baker y Pascua” (Santiago, Chile: Government of Chile, 2016), Tabla 6. 17 Rodrigo Moreno et al., “Facilitating the Integration of Renewables in Latin America: The Role of Hydropower Generation and Other Energy Storage Technologies,” IEEE Power and Energy Magazine 15, no. 5 (2017): 68–80. 18 Comisión Nacional de Energía, Presidente Piñera inaugura carretera eléctrica Cardones Polpaico que impulsará uso de energías limpias, 25 June 2019, retrieved from: https://www.cne.cl/prensa/prensa-2019/06-junio/presidente-de-la-republica-inaugura-carretera-electrica-cardones-polpaico-que-impulsara-uso-de-energias-limpias-en-todo-el-pais/ [accessed 12/25/2020]. On the importance of transport infrastructure in energy transitions, see Jones, Routes of Power, 231–32. Relatedly, clean energy projects, especially wind farms, are not immune to the sorts of environmental and social conflicts that are so well documented for dam developments. See, e.g., Martin J. Pasqualetti, “Opposing Wind Energy Landscapes: A Search for Common Cause,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101, no. 4 (2011): 907–17; Cymene Howe, Dominic Boyer, and Edith Barrera, “Wind at the Margins of the State: Autonomy and Renewable Energy Development in Southern Mexico,” in Contested Powers: The Politics of Energy and Development in Latin America (London: Zed Books, 2015), 92–115; Adryane Gorayeb et al., “Wind Power Gone Bad: Critiquing Wind Power Planning Processes in Northeastern Brazil,” Energy Research & Social Science 40 (2018): 82–88.  19 See Jones, “The Materiality of Energy.” 104    social and economic change. The engineers of the Laja complex, for example, sought to regulate an entire hydrological system in an attempt to reconcile competing social and economic objectives within and beyond the river basin. Their technical interventions were the product of a constant negotiation with the environment rather than the progressive domination of nature, while the entire project ultimately ran up against the complexities of politics and climate, national and global phenomena that cannot be contained within a single system. The cases examined in this thesis raise the question of whether modern infrastructure projects, for all their rhetoric about putting nature at the service of humankind, can ever truly control the environmental forces they tap into and the social forces they seek to regulate. The Chilean central grid, while invisible to most users, is neither insulated from the environment nor immune to politics. The engineers who initiated and oversaw Chilean electrification clearly believed such feats were possible, and they attempted to bend Chile’s rivers to the will of society. In the process, however, they unwittingly submitted themselves and their compatriots to the whims of nature.               105     Figure 14 – Hydropower Dependence in Chile Figure 15 – Power Generation on the Central Grid 106    Bibliography 1. Archival & Library Collections All repositories listed below are in Santiago. In some cases, I accessed items that were available through online collections or requested scanned copies of printed materials through the Ley de Transparencia (the Chilean equivalent of an Access to Information request). Full citations for unpublished primary documents from these repositories are found in the chapter footnotes, followed by the abbreviated collection name and archival annotations as appropriate. Published primary sources located in these collections are also cited in the footnotes, with the relevant notations. Sources from other repositories not named below are cited in the footnotes and listed in full under the heading Published Primary Sources & Grey Literature. Archivo Nacional de la Administración (ARNAD) Fondo CORFO Fondo Dirección de Obras Hidráulicas (DOH) Fondo Ministerio de Agricultura (MA) Fondo Ministerio del Interior (MI) Fondo Ministerio de Justicia (MJ) Fondo Ministerio de Obras Públicas (MOP) Archivo Fílmico, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile [online] Colección Instituto Fílmico 1956-1967 (AFUC-IF) Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile Archivo de Recortes de Prensa (BCN-ARP) Estantería Digital [BCN-ED] [online] Biblioteca Nacional de Chile Archivo Alessandri (BN-AA) Sección Chilena (BN-SC) Memoria Chilena (BN-MC) [online]  Biblioteca CORFO Biblioteca Archivo (CORFO-BA) Biblioteca Central (CORFO-BC) Biblioteca Enel (BE) Centro de Información de Recursos Naturales  Centro de Documentación (CIREN-CEDOC) Dirección General de Aguas  Centro de Información de Recursos Hídricos (DGA-CIRH) [mostly online] Dirección de Obras Hidráulicas  Archivo Técnico (DOH-AT) Universidad de Chile Biblioteca Central, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas (BC-FCFM) Biblioteca Ingeniería Civil, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas (BIC-FCFM)  2. Newspapers and Periodicals Most of the press clippings reviewed for this study come from the Archivo de Recortes de Prensa at the Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional. Specifically, I consulted folders from various dates under the following subject headings: Estudios energía (hidroeléctrica) (D-3-b), Energía en Chile (D-3-b-1) and 107    ENDESA (D-3-b-2). In the footnotes, I cite the specific publications with the archival notation BCN-ARP. As the press clippings in the archive are organized thematically, it would not make sense to list the individual publications below. I have also systematically reviewed several periodicals. They are listed here:  Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile* Boletín ENDESA (after July 1972 known as ENDESA) Revista Chilena de Ingeniería* *Published jointly after 1957  3. Published Primary Sources & Grey Literature Banco Central de Chile. Indicadores económicos y sociales de Chile 1960-2000. Santiago, Chile, 2001. 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