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After months of resistance, Yucatan wind park moves ahead

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The new wind farm at Dzilam de Bravo on the Yucatan coast. Photo: Getty

A US$130 million wind park on the Yucatan coast will begin testing this week despite a policy from Mexico’s grid operator that would have halted operations there.

“We will soon begin trials at the park, and with the encouragement that it will deliver power to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) as quickly as possible,” Vive Energía managing director Benigno Villarreal told Reforma.

“This type of project will strengthen the power system on the peninsula, which is a power system with difficulties,” he said.

The Yucatán Peninsula is one of the most energy-starved regions in Mexico, a problem only slowly being remedied by a build-out of pipelines to import U.S. natural gas, as well as renewables power projects and construction of CFE power plants.

Mexico-based Vive Energía won the rights to develop the park in the first long-term power auction in 2015.

Currently, the company has 200MW of installed capacity in Mexico, including the first wind park to operate in the Peninsula, with another 1000MW in development, according to its website.

Some 95% of the plant’s power will go to state utility CFE, while 5% will be sold on the wholesale power market (MEM) or through a private contract.

Cenace, the authority in charge of Mexico’s power grid, ordered a suspension of all late-stage development wind and solar parks, supposedly a measure to stabilize power supply during the pandemic. That triggered lawsuits by private renewables firms and subsequent decisions by the energy ministry (Sener) to further halt development.

Those government efforts have been halted, for now.

Private power companies have filed at least 47 legal injunctions against Cenace, most of which have been granted. And on Tuesday, the supreme court again ruled in favor of renewables companies, making for four rulings from the highest court against Sener’s anti-renewables policies.

But, according to Reforma, Villarreal said that his company had slowed developments of its parks until clarity emerged on the Cenace decision.

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