Calderon Government Opens Three New Wind-Power Projects in Oaxaca

By Navarro, Carlos | SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico, October 31, 2012 | Go to article overview

Calderon Government Opens Three New Wind-Power Projects in Oaxaca


Navarro, Carlos, SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico


In late October, President Felipe Calderon inaugurated three new wind-power projects in Oaxaca, adding another 300 megawatts of wind-generated capacity to the state. With the three new facilities--Piedra Larga, Oaxaca I, and La Venta III--the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, known for its favorable wind conditions, now has more than a dozen power plants.

The expansion of wind energy is part of the Calderon government's plan to greatly expand the use of renewable energy in Mexico and reduce reliance on fossil fuels (SourceMex, Oct. 21, 2009 and NotiEn, September 2011). Under the president's long-term energy plan for 2012-2026, wind-powered energy would account for almost 17% of the electricity produced in Mexico (SourceMex, March 7, 2012). As part of the plan, the president has targeted a 30% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020.

So far this year, Mexico has more than doubled its installed wind-power capacity to about 1.3 gigawatts from 519 MW last year. In contrast, Mexico produced only 6 MW of wind power when Calderon took office in December 2006.

Calderon said his administration has granted permits for another 32 wind-energy projects in Mexico, which have a combined capacity to produce about 2 GW of electricity.

Calderon first became involved in promoting wind parks during his tenure as energy secretary in the administration of former President Vicente Fox (2000-2006). "It seemed like a dream back then," the president said at an inauguration ceremony at Piedra Larga. "Many people, including experts on the electrical industry, were saying that it was a fantasy, a personal project of the energy secretary."

Under the scheme established under the Calderon administration to promote energy projects, multinational companies were given incentives to invest capital to construct the facilities and to manage the plants once they were online.

The largest of the three new plants in Oaxaca was constructed in the industrial park of Piedra Lisa near the community of Union Hidalgo with the sole purpose of providing energy for the 65 plants owned by baked-goods company Grupo Bimbo, as well as other entities that have made arrangements with Bimbo to obtain power from the plant. They include Grupo Calidra and Frialsa Frigorificos and the Papalote Museo del Nino.

The plant, which will produce about 90 MW, is a project of Desarrollos Eolicos Mexicanos (Demex), an affiliate of Spain's Renovalia Energy. The company plans a second phase at Piedra Lisa, which will have the capacity to produce 137 MW.

Mexico's giant cement company CEMEX also commissioned the construction of wind-powered plants in Oaxaca to power its facilities around the country (SourceMex, Jan. 28, 2009).

As with most new wind plants in Mexico, Spanish-based companies like Iberdrola, Union Fenosa, and Gamesa have been hired to develop and manage the new facilities. The newly inaugurated La Venta III is an Iberdrola project, while Spain's Grupo ACS developed Oaxaca I. Other non-Spanish companies like Japan's Mitsubishi and US-based Sempra Energy have also been involved in developing wind parks in Mexico.

Local residents criticize foreign project developers

The participation of multinational companies in developing the wind-power industry in Oaxaca has caused tensions with local residents of primarily indigenous communities. Local residents complain that the wind projects have displaced many communities, promoted conflicts among residents of area towns, and caused significant harm to fish, livestock, and birds. Many groups also claim that they have received few benefits or royalties from the projects despite promises by the multinationals to compensate residents. …

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