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Mexico

Mexico

Choosing partners for Mexico plant

The city of Santa Catarina in Mexico's Nuevo Leon state plans to start construction of a 20 MW wind plant by year-end, according to municipal services secretary Alfredo Rojas. Working with Mexican-US company Energy and Water Services Multinational (ESM), town authorities have studied wind for 14 months at four sites, the best of which shows average wind speeds of 8 m/s and a 35-37% capacity factor.

Santa Catarina is in the process of setting up a special purpose company -- Eólica Santa Catarina (ESC) -- in which ESM will put the capital and the town authorities the land. Setting up ESC is necessary to get around Mexico's tough restrictions on private sector participation in the power sector: the project will be registered as self-supply, meaning that the 18 municipalities to receive the power will have one share each in ESC. ESM will hold the remainder, says ESM director Hector Martínez.

ESM is likely to add more partners. It was planning to choose either ABB Finland, Japanese Sumitomo, or both, as technological partner by the end of June, Martínez adds. If just one technology partner is chosen, ESC ownership will be 50:50; if two partners are picked, the split will be 33% for each of the three companies. The project cost is $20 million, says Rojas, though Martínez puts it at $25 million.

The wind farm will be built at the best of the four sites on the road from Santa Catarina to Saltillo, says Rojas. Of the 18 municipalities around Santa Catarina to be served by the wind farm, the seven municipalities of the metropolitan area will be the main consumers, Martínez continues. Letters of intent are in place with all 18.

Santa Catarina expects a favourable environment impact report from environment and natural resources department Semarnat, with which it can file for approval from energy regulator CRE and conclude transmission talks with state power company CFE, Rojas says. All paperwork should be in place by October-November.

Construction will be the responsibility of the technological partner, Martínez says, meaning there will not be a call for turnkey construction. Martínez recently visited Europe to assess available technology and says the supplier will probably be Danish.

US commerce secretary Don Evans pledged in June to give $200,000 for completion of the wind studies, financing that Martínez says will be through the US' Trade & Development Agency.

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