Mexico’s National Energy Control Center (Cenace) has imposed new restrictions on renewable energy deployment, citing the need to protect energy security during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Cenace published on Wednesdey provisions in the Mexican official journal which halted grid connections for new solar and wind power projects until further notice.
Business lobby group the Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE) described the move as arbitrary and a restriction on competition.
“Without solid technical motivation or fully justified legal basis … Cenace has neglected its legal mandate to safeguard the efficiency of the national electric system and competition in the electricity market, which negatively impacts thousands of consumers in the commercial and industrial sector,” said the CCE in a statement.
The business group claimed the new provisions were inspired by a document released by state-owned utility the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) in August.
“The first measures of this document were implemented by the Secretariat of Energy against the clean energy certificates (CELs) mechanism and then suspended by a series of federal judges who identified irreversible damage to both the environment and private rights,” the trade body stated. Clean energy certificates are awarded to renewable energy generators. Power companies such as the CFE must purchase them to bridge any shortfall in the percentage of clean energy they are mandated to include in their supply.
The administration of Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has form when it comes to moves against the clean energy sector. President ‘Amlo’ has halted large scale renewables auctions and has suggested national power generation capacity be expanded with 13 GW of new power plants operated entirely by the CFE.
Mexico City-based consultant Miriam Grunstein, chief energy counsel of Brilliant Energy Consulting, recently discussed the energy ‘conservatism’ of the current regime in an interview with pv magazine.
“There is conservatism in the government and it is even funny, because the president attacks conservatives a lot but I think that the president and the head of the Ministry of Energy have an energy conservatism that I would describe as reactionary,” Grunstein told pv magazine Mexico editor Jorge Zarco. “The most recent thing that happened with clean energy certificates is a blow to the energy transition because it is not that they want to finance their hydroelectric and nuclear projects with CELs; it is not that they feel disadvantaged as generators; but they want to destroy the market. That was the purpose: not [to] devalue the CELs but destroy the market.”