Indigenous communities in Mexico grapple with energy projects – global issues


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Since 2016, residents of three municipalities in the central Mexican state of Puebla have prevented the construction of the Puebla 1 hydropower plant, with a lawsuit arguing that mandatory indigenous counseling has not been implemented and that the mega-project will protect the environment. damage. This screenshot is from a video of a protest in a municipality by the Fundar Center for Analysis and Research. Credit: IPS / Fundar
  • Written by Emilio Godoy (Mexico City)
  • Inter Press service

“They have opened roads without the knowledge of the local communities. A consultation has taken place in another municipality, but not here,” Aurelio Mogarti, an indigenous Mayan man, told IPS by phone.

Like its neighbors, Mugarte farmer in San José Tepeche Egido, 1,468 hectares of public land were given to the community for farming.

The solar project is divided into: Tecool A and B. And owns it Solar Vega, A Mexican subsidiary of US-based Sun Power, whose largest shareholder is the French oil giant Total SE. It involves clearing some 700 hectares of forest in a sensitive area due to its biodiversity, porous karst terrain and prone to pits.

The state of Yucatan is located on the Yucatan Peninsula, which also includes the states of Campeche and Quintana Roo, and is the second most important terrestrial ecosystem in Latin America, after the Amazon rainforest.

The local communities have filed two lawsuits against the park, which will cover parts of the municipalities of Mona, Sacalum and Ticole, about 1,300 kilometers southeast of Mexico City.

The plant is the product of the 2013 Energy Reform that opened the generation and marketing of energy in Mexico to both domestic and foreign private capital. Leave transmission and distribution of electric power in the hands of the state-owned Federal Electricity Authority (palm).

As a result of the reform, the government held three electricity auctions in 2016 and 2017 to build generators that sell their production to CFE. In 2016, Vega Solar Energía was one of the Tecool A and B., Which will install about 1.22 million solar panels to generate about 600 megawatts.

“The reform affected us and allowed companies to enter. The government sought to favor the company. If renewable energy is going to destroy nature, I don’t see any benefit,” Mogarty complained.

Now, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has held office since December 2018, wants to reverse the energy reform that his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto introduced in August 2013, at least as far as electric power is concerned.

Counter electrician repair

The new Electricity Law, enacted on March 9th, favors CFE stations over private generators, although they are more expensive.

As of now, in the wholesale electricity market (MEM), which is run by the independent state-owned state National Energy Center (Cenace), the electrical energy generated by the national electricity system must be sold first, before the energy from private companies, especially from wind and solar sources.

The government and its party, the Movement for National Renewal (MORENA), did not address the constitution as it did in 2013. But the changes reflected energy reform that opened up the generation and marketing of private capital.

The 2013 reform sought to boost competition in the market and lower rates. But CFE argued that it was hurt by the changes and that it lost money as the power that generated it diminished. In January, 98 generators participated in MEM, including CFE and private operators.

With anti-electricity reform, Cenace has to first sell the power generated from CFE hydropower plants, then electricity from fossil fuels and other sources for that state-owned company, then wind and solar energy from private generators, and finally the electric power generated using gas and steam in combined cycle plants Privately owned.

It also requires the Independent Energy Regulatory Commission to declare invalid the self-supply permits obtained by individuals to generate their own electricity from sources such as gas, hydropower, wind and solar energy, in what is known as distributed or decentralized generation.

Future generation permits are also subject to the planning standards of the Ministry of Energy, which means that they are subject to government provisions. In addition, the new regulations removed the requirement for electricity auctions.

Implementation of the new law is temporarily suspended by order of the judge, although it is assumed that it will proceed.

In the second largest economy in Latin America, with a population of 126 million, electricity consumption is currently around 270,000 gigawatt hours, half of which is provided by CFE and the rest by private operators.

The sources of electricity are primarily fossil fuels (about 76 percent), hydropower (about eight percent), wind (6.59 percent), solar energy (four percent), nuclear energy (three percent) and geothermal energy ( 1.5 percent).

Communities affected by megaprojects feel that counter-reform gives them a respite, as they will no longer be in the shadow of private companies. But they were not without European conventional armed forces law, which has historically ignored their demands.

“We don’t think the changes are good for us, because the energy is not for us,” said Mogarty, whose district is powered by electricity from a fossil-fueled thermal plant.

Energy reform left local communities at the mercy of the CFE, state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and private companies, as they were unable to refuse to install the project.

Although it required social impact assessment and consultations with indigenous communities, it was implemented after project planning and design and became a mere formality.

As a result, the affected persons chose to file a lawsuit with the court for lack of what they consider to be stress-free advice, prior to project design and construction and with sufficient and timely information.

The same scheme has been replicated in other parts of the country as in Yucatan.

In the central state of Puebla, Deselec 1-Comexhidro aims to build a Puebla 1 hydroelectric plant to supply electricity to Mexican subsidiaries of US retail chain Walmart, a restaurant and clothing chain.

“Yes, it has changed things somewhat, because it allows energy to be Mexican, since it has been privatized,” Jose Galindo, a member of the indigenous Totonaco in eastern Mexico, told IPS by phone from the municipality of San Felipe Petatlán in Puebla. . . “But even so, this is worrisome. They want to continue managing oil and pollution, and they want to build more hydroelectric dams, which will continue to impede the watersheds.”

“We do not feel more supported than conventional forces in Europe, nor do we feel that we have better quality energy,” said Galindo, a member of the non-governmental regional council of Tutunaco.

Since 2016, residents of three municipalities in Puebla have blocked a massive hydroelectric project on the Agagalpan River, the main water source, through two legal measures. The so-called Puebla 1 Hydroelectric Project will build two dams, Ahuakoya and Zuquiapa, the first of which will be 45 meters high and will have a generating capacity of 60 MW.

“There was a simulation of consulting the indigenous people. They actually got the permits a few years ago, and all they did was tell people what they wanted to do. Government institutions were part of the simulation. They never informed us of the project,” said Galindo, whose municipality is located. Its population is 4,000 people 230 kilometers south of Mexico City.

Before legislative approval of changes to the Electricity Trade System, Authorities and organizations of 14 indigenous peoples Request to participate in renewable energy generation.

They raised the need for “a new paradigm for the social and democratic transformation of energy, without the participation of large multinational corporations or private mega-projects.”

Since 2018, angry communities have halted at least six renewable projects in the Yucatan and a hydropower plant in Puebla.

The CFE does not plan to invest in renewable energy, as it prefers fossil fuels, large hydropower plants and nuclear power.

Communities like San Jose Tepché and San Felipe Tepatlan just want to cancel projects.

“We want to reject the environmental license. If renewable energy is going to destroy nature, I don’t see a benefit. Let them put it in the desert or in a place that does not affect nature,” Mogarty said.

For his part, Galindo hopes to cancel the hydroelectric station. “It will be very important because there are many violations of rights. I hope each town has its own energy and control over it,” he said.

© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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