Library from Mexico
Some 500 people from Unión Hidalgo marched Saturday to protest the planned Gunaa Sicarú wind farm that firm Eléctricité de France (EDF) plans to build, according to local media reports. The coastal town and fishing community of Unión Hidalgo is inhabited by people of the indigenous Zapoteco ethnic group, who claim to not have been consulted about the planned project.
Flor, who owns the land where the turbine is sited and rents it to EDF, said she arrived on the scene after being alerted by a neighbor. “The stench was terrible, like a sort of burned fuel or ammonia,” she said, asking not to be identified by her surname out of concern over reprisals. “The trees were glistening with oil.” Similar problems have been reported all along the Tehuantepec isthmus, one of the western hemisphere’s windiest places.
Acciona turbine leaks oil and hydraulic fluids at an operating wind plant sited along the Tehuantepec isthmus in Mexico. Similar complaints of pollution have been reported throughout the area.
Besides the lack of information, and of free, prior and informed consent, as the law and international conventions require, indigenous people complain about impacts on migratory birds, rise in temperatures in areas with solar panels and water pollution caused by leaks from wind towers. ... the process of energy development has legal loopholes that have to do with superficial contracts and environmental impact studies.
Renewable energy from south of the border is beginning to make a big impact on the American side. Looming over the dry desert scrub, as high as a 25-story building, the giant turbines of the Energía Sierra Juárez wind farm punctuate the horizon just south of the California border, an otherworldly array of white tubular towers each topped with three, 12-ton blades.
This important decision by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District in California found that the Department of Energy failed to follow NEPA when it issued a permit to construct a transmission line that crossed over from Mexico into the United States. The Court order that since the U.S. portion of the Line and the Mexican portion of the Line were literally "two links of a single chain" connecting the Substation to the ESJ Wind Farm, the DOE was required to consider the impacts of the project on Mexico. Portions of the decision are shown below. The full report can be accessed by clicking the document link on this page.
Mexican and foreign energy companies have paid off local power brokers to bring landowners on board, according to lawyers and activists. Yet in some cases, money they had donated for social projects evaporated in the hands of municipal officials. “We’ve had years of wind projects, but poverty is the same.”
Dutch pension fund manager PGGM is abandoning a 396-MW project in Mexico after several years of delays due to community resistance, Dutch media reported this week.
On the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a strong wind is always blowing, which makes it one of the best places in the world to generate wind energy. Since 1994, 24 wind farms have been erected in the region. One proposal, to be funded by Dutch pension fund manager PGGM would include 132 turbines. At 396 megawatts, it would be the largest wind farm in Mexico. The project is budgeted at 750 million euros. Other investors to the project included Mitsubishi and the Australian investment group Macquarie.
The analysis also reveals that the well publicized U.S. wind drought of early 2015 – which hit wind farms in California and Texas particularly hard – also had a far-reaching effect on much of northern and central Mexico: First-quarter wind speeds in this region were 5%-20% below normal.
This useful paper provides a detailed review of wind energy development in southern Mexico and the resulting opposition to the projects. Excerpts of the paper are provided below. The full paper can be accessed by selecting the links on this page.
A palm hat worn down by time covers the face of Celestino Bortolo Teran, a 60-year-old Indigenous Zapotec man. He walks behind his ox team as they open furrows in the earth. A 17-year-old youth trails behind, sowing white, red and black corn, engaging in a ritual of ancient knowledge shared between local people and the earth.
The Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda) has detailed inconsistencies in the approval of the Eólica del Sur project, claiming that government officials granted permits and licenses before the consultation stage was over, violating the indigenous communities’ rights to an informed process.
Mexico is planning to quadruple its wind-power capacity as part of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s effort to transform the country’s energy industry. The country expects to have about 10 gigawatts of turbines in operation within three years spread across almost every region, up from 2.5 gigawatts in 2014.
“All these agencies and companies are in lockstep on this green energy rush, whether it’s actually beneficial to us or not,” said Donna Tisdale, a resident of Boulevard in East San Diego County. Tisdale is leading the lawsuit against Energía Sierra Juárez, which also names the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Among other things, the lawsuit claims the Department of Energy issued a Presidential Permit without considering environmental impacts in Mexico or alternative clean energy projects, as required by law.
This means a tense and possibly bloody situation is emerging and the people of Álvaro Obregón will need support in their struggle for autonomy against the invasion of wind turbines, political parties and the state police and military. ...Such “green” construction, it turns out, isn’t much different from many other large-scale industrial projects that altered or destroy the natural environment and the people who stand in the way of these kinds of developments.
“It hurts us that our land is affected, and the environmental impacts are not even measured. Wind farm projects affect streams and hurt the flora,” said Zapotec Indian Isabel Jiménez, who is taking part in the struggle against the installation of a wind park in southern Mexico.
In a detailed interview, the biologist explained what the environmental impact reports omit: the real impacts on the flora and fauna of the Tehuantepec Isthmus. These negative impacts extend not only throughout Mexico, but also into the ecosystems of Central America. Mora even casts doubts about the way in which these environmental studies are conducted. "Generally there are 'agreements' behind closed doors between the consultants or research centers and the government offices before the studies are conducted.
On Nov. 26, a fire was reported at the nacelle of a Gamesa G80-2 MW turbine at Enel Green Power's (EGP) Stipa Nayaa wind farm in Oaxaco, Mexico. Gamesa completed construction and development of the 74 MW facility, formerly known as Bii Nee Stipa II, for Enel last year and serves as the wind farm's operations and maintenance (O&M) provider.
Health service pension fund PGGM is embroiled in an investment in a wind farm project in Mexico that has turned sour, the Volkskrant reports. ...The wind farm was due to be in operation this autumn but building has not yet begun because of a conflict with the locals who want the project cancelled.