Article

Clean energy expansion in Mexico has its victims

The growing wind and solar generation projects in the state of Yucatán are part of a positive change in Mexico's energy matrix. But in the affected communities this expansion is not perceived the same, due to the lack of information and consultation and because of how it alters their lives. “We have no information. We have certain doubts, there are people who say it is good and others that it is bad. We have heard what is being said in other states, ”farmer Luís Miguel told IPS.

In Mexico, the wind farms generate controversy due to complaints of unfair treatment, land dispossession, lack of prior, free and informed consultation and exclusion of the electricity generated.  In the image, the wind turbines frame the skyline of the northern city of Zacatecas.  

KIMBILÁ, Mexico - The growing wind and solar generation projects in the state of Yucatán are part of a positive change in Mexico's energy matrix. But in the affected communities this expansion is not perceived the same, due to the lack of information and consultation and because of how it alters their lives. 

“We have no information. We have certain doubts, there are people who say it is good and others that it is bad. We have heard what is being said in other states, ”farmer Luís Miguel told IPS.

This indigenous Mayan resides in Kimbilá, a town in the municipality of Izamal that is the headquarters of a hitherto failed private wind energy venture, stopped by the opposition of its 3,600 inhabitants and in particular of an ejido (public land awarded for community exploitation) , on whose lands the wind farm would be installed.

"We fear that they will harm our crops," emphasized Miguel, whose father is one of the 573 members of the Ejido de Kimbilá, located in the north of the Yucatán Peninsula, about 1,350 kilometers southeast of Mexico City.

The questioned work, in charge of the Spanish company Elecnor , which includes the installation of 50 wind turbines to obtain 159 megawatt hours per year.

The corporation installed an anemometric tower in 2014, but the local population, which makes its living by growing corn and vegetables, raising small livestock and harvesting honey, hardly knew about the project until January 2016.

Since then, two assemblies have been organized in the ejido and another was suspended, without reaching an agreement to endorse the 25-year lease of the lands needed for the project.

Meanwhile, in February of that year, ejidatarios filed a complaint against the Agrarian Attorney's Office for its support of the interests of the company, promoting assemblies contrary to the legality of these community instruments.

The park would have a useful life of 30 years, including the preparation, construction and operation phases, and for which it needs 77 hectares of the 5,000 hectares of the ejido.

The company offered between five and 970 dollars per year per hectare, depending on the usefulness of the land for the wind farm, a proposal that caused unease among the ejidatarios. In addition, it would give them 1.3 percent of the billing for the energy generated. But electricity would not meet local demand.

“We have had no information. For those who work the land it does not suit them. The forest will be destroyed and 30 years is a long time, ”beekeeper Victoriano Canmex told IPS.

This ejidatario, also a Mayan, expressed his fear of possible harm to bees, "because roads would be opened with heavy machinery." “They said they could relocate the apiaries and they don't know anything about beekeeping. It's not fair, we are going to be left with nothing, "he complained.

Canmex, who owns eight apiaries, checks the hives twice a week, along with four of his six children. It annually collects 25 30-kilo drums, which end up on European tables. Yucatecan honey is highly appreciated in the world, for its quality and organic nature.

Yucatán, an ancient Mayan emporium that maintains a high percentage of indigenous population, has become a new energy frontier in Mexico, due to its great wind and solar potential.

This state adopted the goal of using renewable and non-conventional energies of 9.3 percent in 2018. In Yucatán, the annual incorporation of new generation capacity would total 1,408 megawatts in 2030.

Excluding large hydroelectric plants, renewable sources contribute a scant eight percent of Mexico's electricity matrix. According to official statistics , in December 2016, hydroelectricity had an installed capacity of 12,092 megawatts, geothermal 873, wind, 699, and solar photovoltaic, six.

According to the business Mexican Wind Energy Association, in Mexico there are at least 31 wind farms located in nine states, with a total installed capacity of 3,527 megawatts of clean energy for the Northeast, West, South and Southeast regions of East country of 122 million people.

In addition to the lack of information, free, prior and informed consultation, as required by law and international conventions, indigenous people report impacts on migratory birds, an increase in temperature in areas with solar panels, and water contamination from spills from wind towers .

For Romel González, a member of the non-governmental Indigenous and Popular Regional Council of Xpujil, a town located in the neighboring state of Campeche, the energy development process suffers from legal loopholes, related to contract models and superficial environmental impact studies.

“There is a lack of information for the communities, who do not know the scope of the contracts, do not explain the problems that are going to arise. A series of quite strong conflicts and manipulative conditions are generated to obtain licenses. They apply social engineering and divide the community, ”González told IPS.

In the region, in his opinion, there are natural resources that "had not been touched and now they want to take advantage of them", whose management becomes "attractive to dispossess the communities."

The state is experiencing an energy festival because in its territory five solar plants are projected, with 536 megawatts of total capacity and another five wind farms, with a capacity of 256 megawatts, which would operate until 2030 and which have already been awarded to local and foreign companies.

In the first national auction for electricity generation organized by the government, in March 2016 , four wind and five solar projects won, while in the second, the following September , two new wind projects were selected.

The change in the electricity matrix is ​​based on Mexico's energy reform, fully in force since August 2014, which opens up to the private sector, national and foreign, the exploitation, refining, distribution and trade of hydrocarbons, as well as the generation and sale of electricity.

Local authorities project that in 2018 the wind generation will be 6,099 megawatts, 478 of them coming from Yucatan, to rise two years later to 12,823 megawatts, of which 2,227 contributed by this state.

For this, Yucatán would raise 52 million dollars in 2017 and 1,584 million in 2018.

The Electricity Industry Law, in force since 2014, stipulates that each project requires a social impact assessment, but critics of wind projects have no evidence of their implementation in the state, while there is only evidence of two public consultations in the communities affected, in the case of two parks.

"The electricity will not be for us and we do not know what will happen later (with the project installed), so our doubts", stressed Miguel.

For the local population, the "Oaxaca model" is the invocation of bad omens, since that state in southern Mexico is home to the largest number of eolofarms, involved in complaints of unfair treatment, territorial dispossession and lack of free, prior and informed consultation. Nobody wants to replicate that model.

"The authorities want to do it by all means, they are only trying to get the projects approved," Canmex questioned.

González criticized the government for not requiring the evaluations. “We have asked for them and they have answered us that there are none. The responses of the communities to the projects will depend on the degree of awareness and social organization. Some communities will react late, when the project is under construction ”, he stated.

Translated into English using Google Translate


Source: http://www.ipsnoticias.net/...

FEB 15 2017
https://www.windaction.org/posts/51827-clean-energy-expansion-in-mexico-has-its-victims
back to top