New Publication | Enticed By the Wind: A Case Study in the Social and Historical Context of Wind Energy Development in Southern Mexico

By Stephanie Friede

enticed by the windWind energy is closely related to a myriad number of pressing social, political, and economic concerns. “Mexico has already set ambitious targets for renewable energy, stipulating that green power must make up 35 percent of the country’s generation by 2026,” reported The Financial Times in late 2014. However, it was only in 2009 that the industry itself began to pick up speed. As one report explained that year, “After years of spinning wheels, renewables in Mexico are ready to forge ahead.” Former President Felipe Calderón, two years into his six-year term, positioned his own political legacy firmly alongside the future of renewable energy. While prior to 2006, the renewable energy industry was at a standstill “aside from large hydropower construction,” it was with the backing of Calderón that the industry really picked up steam. Impediments to growth included the “federal power utility” the Comisión Federal de Electricidad which translates as the Federal Electricity Commission (hereafter will be referenced by its Spanish acronym CFE) which “seemed less than interested in competition from independent power producers, such as wind farms,” as well as a “renewable energy law” that “lingered in the national assembly for more than three years…leaving the country without a comprehensive legal framework to encourage renewables investment.”

Today, wind energy technology has evolved. The Mexican wind energy sector is expanding with parks popping up across the country. While many see the growth of wind energy as the inevitable next step in a progressive approach to green economic development, it will only succeed if and when the social and the natural landscapes of new projects are considered in concert. This paper is a case study in the social and historical context of wind energy development in southern Mexico. The paper argues that wind energy on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec has produced far more than mere electricity. Like other kinds of large-scale energy or infrastructure projects, the arrival of wind turbines also brings worldviews into conversation. Windenergy projects and developers identify nature as a resource for human use while many residents of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec see their windy world through quite a different lens. While difficult to pin-down, istmeños have engaged with the land in productive partnership that carries with both their history and spiritual qualities. In order to dispel current tensions and rectify mistakes made in the path forward, a critical rethinking of this kind of sustainable development is urgently needed.

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US-Mexico bank doles out cash

windmillRe News, 4/15/14

The North American Development Bank has begun disbursing two loans totaling $140m to build a pair of 126MW wind farms in Mexico.Ventika 1 and 2 investors include Mexican cement and aggregates giant Cemex and Fisterra Energy, a company controlled by funds managed by Blackstone.

The energy produced will supply facilities belonging to FEMSA, DEACERO, Tecnológico de Monterrey and CEMEX. The Ventika wind farms are located in the municipality of General Bravo, Nuevo Leon, about 100 miles east of Monterrey. Acciona Energía is building the projects under engineering, procurement and construction contracts, as reported by reNews.

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Mexico housing project goes solar

Solar PanelsUnited Press International, 2/25/2013

A housing project in Guadalajara is going solar with help from Mississippi’s Solar America Corp., an innovator in the cost-saving technology. Mexico leads Latin America in solar energy production but analysts say the country has yet to exploit its full potential. More solar power generation in Mexico will free up its oil output for exports and save the state precious resources that are currently spent on producing non-renewal energy.

Industry analysts say Mexico can combine solar power with wind energy production to get the best results from its existing potential of the two natural resources. The latest solar energy deal takes development of the resource a few steps forward. Solar America Corp. said Monday it signed a memorandum of understanding with Valdez Cueva Constructores Asociados S.A. de C.V., the principal contractor for the housing project.

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Baja Wind Energy Project Could Help Fill California’s Sails

Transcript, Newshour, 6/16/2010

EMMA COTT, independent filmmaker: Here in Baja, just south of California’s border with Mexico, the land is so dry, it can’t be farmed. There’s no work either.

Small-town life depends on cash wired by relatives who have slipped across the border. But the area’s fortune could be changing. As it turns out, this dusty town has something that California desperately needs: wind.

Baja’s first small wind farm will be for use within Mexico, but David Munoz, the director of Baja’s Energy Commission, envisions an international green energy future for his state.

DAVID MUNOZ, director, Baja State Energy Commission: Exporting wind is our next export or renewable power in general. We have an excess of potential, and we have a huge market on the American side.

Watch video of the program and read the complete transcript here…