El Bote Powerhouse

El Bote Powerhouse

Our Most Recent Projects


EL Bote Project and the ATDER-BL Electrical Company

The El Bote Small Hydro project is located between El Cuá and San José de Bocay close to the village of El Bote. The project was completed in 2007 at a cost of approximately US $3 million. The plant capacity is 930 kW, which supplies enough power to meet present demand in the region with significant surplus power to sell or export to the national grid at the contract price of 6.8 cents per kWh. Ideally after the development loan is paid in 13 years, US $300,000 of revenue will become available for development projects.

El Bote, El Galope and Chico Estrada are the three villages closest to the El Bote hydro plant and these communities have contributed the volunteer manual labor that built the El Bote dam and access roads, a total of 6,000 person-days. Once the El Bote development loan is paid these three villages will participate in the decision making as to which development projects will benefit from the annual net revenue of El Bote.

The lines worker team in 2007 completed 65 km (40 miles) of transmission lines connecting the national grid to the town of San José de Bocay. The ATDER-BL lines worker team erects power lines faster, cheaper and are better built than those strung by the national grid crews. Our team lifts the power poles manually using cable or rope. One mile of transmission line in North America costs US $70,000 to construct whereas our lines worker team build transmission lines at a cost of $15,000 per mile.

Since the El Bote plant has been built and the region has been connected to the national grid, the ATDER-BL hydroelectric company distributes electricity to about 12,000 of the 80,000 inhabitants who live in the municipalities of El Cuá and San José de Bocay. The population is rural, a large number living in isolated farms and only the most urban or 15% of the region have electricity, those communities that are within reach of the power lines. A team of meter readers, lines workers, and administrators are necessary to keep the system maintained and running.


Independent Construction Team

José Vilchez graduated second in his class of surveyors from an educational program in Managua, managed and sponsored by the Swedish government. He began as the chief surveryor for ATDER-BL and later became our principal construction leader for a period of 12 years.

José, and his two brothers Tin and John are now independently designing and building projects for ATDER-BL. Under our management, they recently designed and built the Paso Real, 15 kW micro hydro project for a community in southern Nicaragua. The Vilchez brothers are now building for ATDER-BL an 8 kW project called Milagros near Matagalpa.


Village volunteers hand mix concrete, El Bote dam

Village volunteers hand mix concrete, El Bote dam

Watershed Conservation

Watershed conservation began with the purchase and protection of a large area of the San José de Bocay watershed in 1995. Logging is forbidden. Farmers are educated to use contour planting techniques to minimize soil erosion. Our exceptional agronomist for El Bote, Boanerge Rocha, has established a nursery of seedlings that include a variety of trees and agricultural plants such as coffee, quisquisque, cacao and plantain. Land that had been previously logged is replanted with trees or deep rooted agricultural plants to protect the watershed.

Conservation has multiple benefits; helping the environment in variety of ways and also our hydropower projects by reducing sediment build-up in the reservoirs. Reforestation reduces flash flooding and provides a more even supply of water, which is good for consistent power production. Conservation means less soil erosion, less sediment build-up in the reservoirs, better water flow in the streams, and more oxygen for all of us.

ATDER-BL, with the help of funding from Green Empowerment, has been purchasing watershed lands for their protection and allowing resident farmers to continue cultivating. In El Bote, 1,320 acres or 22% of the watershed has been purchased. In San José de Bocay , 620 acres or 60% of the watershed has been purchased for conservation.

The area northeast of Ayapal is the Bosawas reserve. The largest intact rain forest left in Central America. This area is habitat for a large percentage of migratory birds of North America. The Bosawas reserve has been victim to illegal logging aided by corruption of reserve officials. In the region up to the town of Ayapal very little of the forest is left. The rain forest has been cut for crops and cattle. Green empowerment is contemplating a program of ecological protection in the buffer zone of the Ayapal area.


Representatives from other villages, San José de Bocay dam

Representatives from other villages, San José de Bocay dam