November 23, 2015 – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave the word to start filling the reservoir at the Manuel Piar – or Tocoma – hydroelectric dam, marking the near completion of the most important infrastructure project under construction in the South American country.
On 16th November Maduro asked workers of Salini Impregilo and its consortium partners to close the first of eight conduits in the spillway that had been letting the waters of a river bypass the dam. The event was broadcast live on television across the country, emphasizing the importance of the project in the country's efforts to meet the electricity needs of its people.
The dam – best known as the Tocoma - is the fourth to be built along the Caroní River in Venezuela's southeast. The Caroní is a tributary of the famous Orinoco River.
Venezuelan Energy Minister Gen. Luis Motta Dominguez was on site to witness the first phase of the filling of the reservoir. When this phase will be completed, the reservoir's water surface will reach 116.5 metres above sea level. Once the reservoir is completely full, its waters will have a surface area of 87 square kilometres.
The Tocoma is fitted with 10 Kaplan turbines. Each with a production capacity of 216 MW, the turbines will have a combined installed production capacity of 2,160 MW. Their combined annual production will average 12,100 GWh. The first of these turbines is scheduled to begin generating electricity in November 2016.