Utility wants political change to help wind

Wind generation "will never be very significant in Mexico" without major change, says Girardo Hiriat, renewable energy director of state-owned power company Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE). For wind to reach its estimated 670 MW potential, Hiriat says, one of two things has to happen. If the investment is private, authorities have to subsidise kWh prices; and if the investment is public, wind sites should be combined with existing hydroelectric or thermoelectric plants in hybrid systems. Hiriat's comments follow a call for diversification and more transparency in the power sector with "precise rules and clear obligations" that CFE takes a more business-oriented and rational approach to the use of resources from Mexico's industrial chamber, Concamin, to president-elect Vicente Fox. Power generation in the country is predominantly hydroelectric, says Hiriat, and to meet large predicted demand growth, the government is promoting a number of large-scale natural gas-fired plants. CFE dominates the entire power sector and in the case of generation either owns the plants or obliges private producers to sell power to it. What CFE can realistically do to promote power diversification is not clear until the Fox administration takes office, Hiriat points out. The utility is preparing presentations to the new authorities that would call for subsidies for private wind power in what Hiriat hopes will be a gradual implementation of wind power construction. The first project proposal is for 54 MW at La Venta, but all plans are on hold until Fox takes office December 1.