Written by Mark Stevenson, Associated Press | www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/ Nov 1, 2012
MEXICO CITY – Mexico is putting up wind-power turbines at a breakneck pace and the expansion is pitting energy companies against the Indians who live in one of the windiest spots in the world.
The country is posting one of the world’s highest growth rates in wind energy, and almost all of it is concentrated in the narrow waist of Mexico known as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, where winds from the Pacific meet winds from the Gulf of Mexico, spawning places so wind-blown that one town’s formal name is simply “Windy.”
The largely indigenous residents of the isthmus complain that the wind farms take control of their land, affect fish and livestock with their vibrations, chop up birds and pit residents against each other for the damage or royalty payments. They also claim they see few of the profits from such projects.
President Felipe Calderon has made the inauguration of wind parks one of the main focuses of his administration’s ambitious pledge to cut Mexico’s carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020, and on Tuesday – as he has done before – he stopped by the state of Oaxaca to inaugurate a new clutch of wind turbines, praising the extra income they provide for some farmers.
“Yes, you can fight poverty and protect the environment at the same time. This is a clear example,” Calderon said.
So far in 2012, Mexico has posted a startling 119 percent increase in installed wind-power capacity, more than doubling the 519 megawatts it had last year. Mexico had only 6 megawatts when Calderon took office in 2006.
It has been mainly Spanish firms like Iberdrola, Union Fenosa and Gamesa, and U.S. firms like Sempra Energy, that have built the huge wind towers that now crowd the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, leaving the local population feeling invaded. Only four of Mexico’s 17 wind farms are located outside the isthmus.
It raises the question of whether bigger is always better.
“When they come in they promise and promise things, that they’re going to give us jobs, to our farmers and our towns, but they don’t give us anything,” said Irma Ordonez, an activist from the Zapotec Indian town of Ixtepec, Oaxaca.
Industry sources say the distrust is unmerited, given the potential benefits to the poverty-stricken farming and fishing towns on the isthmus.
Others say it didn’t have to be this way, big corporations pitting villagers against villagers. There are proposals to have local towns start their own wind farms, so that they could decide where they would be situated and where profits should go.
Rodrigo Penalosa, an activist who supports the town of Ixtepec’s proposed 100-megawatt community wind farm, noted that “the community has already approved it. The problem is that the (government) Federal Electricity Commission won’t allow the community project to get access to the network … but it does allow the multinationals access.”
URL to article: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/11/01/mexican-indians-wind-farm-companies-not-living-up-to-their-promises/