CFE admits submitting falsified evidence after massive blackout

Manuel Bartlett, head of Mexico's CFE power utility. Photo: File
Manuel Bartlett, head of Mexico’s CFE power utility. Photo: File

The CFE acknowledged Tuesday that it provided falsified evidence when explaining what caused December’s widespread blackout.

Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission presented a forged civil defense office report suggesting a huge brush fire cut power to 10 million customers on Dec. 28.

The state-owned agency denied the outage was the result of institutional incompetence. As proof, the company published a supposed report of a brush fire in an area beneath some power pylons in Tamaulipas.

But officials in that state said that the document was forged.

Noe Peña Silva, the utility’s director of transmission, admitted the document was fake but blamed rank-and-file workers for the deception. He said Tuesday that the case against the employees who submitted the falsified document had been referred to the commission’s internal affairs office.

“The reactions around this falsified document should be investigated,” CFE Chief Manuel Bartlett said. “Of course people will bear responsibilities for circulating this falsified document.”

Officials in Tamaulipas have filed a formal complaint against the CFE, which has been criticized as a bastion of old-style, centralized government.

Mexico has asked its ministries and regulators to strengthen state monopolies and discourage private participation in the supply of primary and secondary energy. The result is a concentration of market power and a slowdown in investment in infrastructure by the private sector, leading to a breakdown in energy security, wrote an analyst in Natural Gas Intelligence, a trade publication that covers North American energy markets.

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