Bartlett Urges Private Contribution to Grid BackupBy Cas Biekmann | Mon, 05/25/2020 - 17:13
Last Friday, Head of state-owned CFE, Manuel Bartlett, said that private renewable power generators in Mexico should financially contribute to a share of the baseload power sustaining the flow of electricity on the grid, offsetting the effects that their intermittent energy has on grid stability, Reuters reported. Bartlett furthermore called the notion that the Mexican government was resisting clean energy a lie. The statement led to a dismayed response from the Confederation of Industrial Chambers (CONCAMIN), which the CFE rejected in a press release last night.
The dispute is part of a struggle related to policy initiated by CENACE, which pauses crucial tests needed for new renewable energy tests to be connected to the grid. The policy is widely fought by private companies. The struggle is part of a wider issue related to the role of CFE in contrast to the role of private renewable energy generators, which included cancelled long-term energy auctions and an attempt to assign CELs to older CFE plants.
Bartlett told Reuters that he favored the generation of clean energy in Mexico and wished to diminish the effects of fuel oil. Bartlett states while renewable energy companies invested billions in their own projects, they had failed to contribute anything to sustain the grid that allows them to operate. He mentioned that intermittent energy generation creates cost for the CFE, in order to back up time when no energy is generated. “Wind and photovoltaic (plants) don’t pay the CFE for the backup. Do you think it’s fair for the CFE to subsidize these companies that don’t produce power all day?” he asked. Furthermore, he added that private companies should help pay transmission costs. “That’s not a free market, it’s theft,” he said.
In a reply through a press release, CONCAMIN accused Manuel Bartlett of being a liar because of his statements about the participation of the private sector in renewable energy, and that he only seeks to reestablish a state monopoly in the energy sector. This would only lead to higher energy prices for consumers. More importantly, CONCAMIN assesses Bartlett’s statement that private companies do not contribute to the grid as a lie; the Confederation noted that private companies contribute to the transmission lines with a monthly payment according to a regulated rate determined by the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE). Furthermore, any issues related to transmission are affairs of the state through a constitutional mandate. Finally, CONCAMIN stressed that it is incorrect to assume that the state has continuous energy, whereas all private companies rely on intermittent energy, because CFE’s hydro-electricity is intermittent as well, and some private initiatives are based on cogeneration or combined-cycle technology.
CFE in turn responded to this press release with one of their own. In the release, the commission stated that the idea of the government wishing to reestablish a monopoly is based on speculation from CONCAMIN. They stress that CENACE and SENER work independently and are not conspiring together. The argument that private companies contribute to the grid is only true in some cases, and CFE has to pay for a backup of intermittent energies itself. The statement ends by questioning CONCAMIN’s motives: “Distinguished members of CONCAMIN, it would be good to know if the president, Francisco Cervantes Díaz ,really represents Mexican businessmen, or is at the service of foreign companies whose interests have been affected by decisions in favor of the Mexican State,” states the press release.