April 6, 2017 / 9:17 PM / 5 months ago

Chilean presidential candidate outlines electric transport policy

FILE PHOTO: Senator Alejandro Guillier is pictured at the Chilean congress in Valparaiso, Chile January 10, 2017.Rodrigo Garrido

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chilean presidential candidate Alejandro Guillier would, if elected, aim to shift the country toward public transport networks that run on electricity, he told a gathering of journalists on Thursday.

The independent leftist senator also pledged to support renewable energy generation in the South American nation, which has experienced a boom in wind and solar power in recent years.

The country is beginning a major infrastructure build-out, and the two trends have begun showing some synergies. The metropolitan rail system of the capital, Santiago, for instance, is the first in the world to run primarily on solar power.

As well as electric public transport, Guillier said he plans to push for an electric vehicle charging park in his first year in office, and build up the country's minimal inter-urban rail links to cut reliance on fossil fuels.

Polls show the 63-year-old senator in second place in voting intentions to win November's presidential election, after conservative ex-president Sebastian Pinera.

Chile, which has essentially no local hydrocarbons, has shifted heavily toward renewable energy in recent years. In August, a slew of European renewable generators won the majority of contracts in a massive auction to supply the public power grid from the 2020s.

Energy developers will be watching the election keenly for clues as to the future direction of policy, such as the changing structure of the nation's public power auctions, and whether clean energy subsidies might be introduced.

Reporting by Antonio de la Jara; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by James Dalgleish

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