The Guri Dam is a large dam in Bolívar State, Venezuela on the Caroni River. It is one of the largest dams in the world. Its official name is Central Hidroeléctrica Simón Bolívar (previously named Central Hidroeléctrica Raúl Leoni from 1978 to 2000). It is 1300 meters long and 162 m high. Construction began in 1963; the first part concluded in 1978 and the second in 1986.

The dam has long been the focus of much controversy, because the lake it created forever destroyed thousands of square miles of forest that was renowned for its biodiversity and rare wildlife, including the only place where the recently-discovered Carrizal Seedeater (a finch-like tanager) was ever found.

The Hydroelectric Power Plant Guri was constructed in the Necuima Canyon, 100 kilometers upstream from the mouth of the Caroní River in the Orinoco. There are two machine rooms with ten generators each, producing a total of 87 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. The walls in room number two were decorated by the Venezuelan kinetic artist Carlos Cruz-Díez. The first stage of development of Guri began in 1963 and was finished in 1978 with a capacity of 2,065 megawatts in 10 units and with the dam to a maximum level of 215 meters above sea level. The second stage of the dam concluded in 1986 and allows the water level to reach 272 m above sea level, and constructed the second power plant that houses 10 units of 630 MW each. As of 2009, the hydroelectric plant is the third-largest in the world, with 10,200 MW capacity. It was once the largest worldwide by installed capacity, replacing Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP and surpassed by Itaipu HPP. The dam is eighth-largest in the world by volume of water.

Since 2000, there is an on-going refurbishment project to extend the operation of Guri Hydroelectric Power Plant by 30 years. This project is to create 5 new runners and main components on Powerhouse II, and close to the end of 2007 is starting the rehabilitation of four units on Powerhouse I.

Thanks to government policy in effect from the 1960s to minimise power production from fossil fuels in order to export as much oil as possible, 82% of Venezuela's electricity comes from renewable energy like hydroelectric power. The Guri dam alone supplies 73% of Venezuela's electricity. The risks of this strategy became apparent in 2010, when, due to a prolonged drought, there was not enough water to produce enough electricity. In January 2010, the government imposed rolling blackouts of two hours every day throughout the country to combat low water levels behind the dam due to drought.

Guri Dam
Guri Dam
Official name Central Hidroeléctrica Simón Bolívar
Impounds Caroni River
Locale Necuima Canyon, Bolívar
Length 1,300 m (4,300 ft)
Height 162 m (531 ft)
Construction began 1963
Opening date 1978
Power generation information
Turbines 10 × 730 MW
4 × 180 MW
3 × 400 MW
3 × 225 MW
1 × 340 MW
Installed capacity 10,235 MW
Annual generation 87,000 GWh
Pumped storage No
Geographical Data
Coordinates 07°46′00″N 63°00′00″W