George Opocensky
Senior Vice President And General Manager Electricity
Atco Mexico
View from the Top

Collaboration: the Road to Success

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 16:02

Q: What is the relationship between ATCO Mexico and ATCO Energía in the development of new projects?
A: ATCO Energía is a qualified supplier, an integral part of ATCO Mexico. We only recently acquired this distinction, so at the moment we are approaching potential clients and finalizing the details of our certification and we will start ramping up our operations early 2019. The intention for ATCO Energía is to market not only ATCO’s generation, but also generation from other companies to meet the needs of our customers.
Q: Why did the company decide to establish a joint venture with RANMAN Energy and how has this led to increased competitiveness for both players?
A: We escalated our relationship with RANMAN Energy into a joint venture years ago and we view it as a good relationship because of the business it has generated. Our partner has good knowledge of the Mexican industrial markets and is well-positioned with industrial clients, which is what led to the creation of the San Luis Potosi project. We see more opportunities for similar developments in the future; the project has been successful with the exception of the grid interconnection which is about a year late and which is currently targeted to be completed by the end of 2018. This joint venture is also developing a 26MW project at Chemours’ facilities in Durango. This was the result of our successful partnership in the San Luis Potosi venture and we are positive we will give the green light to this project by the end of 2018.
Q: What led you to invest in hydropower through the acquisition of Electricidad del Golfo?
A: Hydro is viewed as a good renewable resource and the best part about this company is that it works with legacy contracts. ATCO’s target is to develop a diversified portfolio of renewable projects including hydro, solar and gas-fired generation.
We have good experience working with hydro projects in Canada and even though these usually carry added environmental challenges, we have found that the best route to solve these is through dialogue and involvement of indigenous communities into the project. That is part of the experience we hope to bring to Mexico, even though we understand that dealing with indigenous communities here will imply different complications.
We see hydro as an excellent development opportunity and if done right, projects can be of great benefit to the company and the communities surrounding them. That being said, we will not actively pursue more hydro projects until we fully understand the way of working in the country.
Q: What would you consider the main differences between developing a project in Canada and doing so in Mexico?
A: The social aspects are different and the legal system demands a different approach from what we are used to in Canada. Mexico is also a more diverse and competitive market and many global players are coming into the country because of all the opportunities it presents. Canadian Energy market is also more mature with well-defined market rules, making it easier in general to do business. We are learning how to navigate these challenges and succeed in doing business.
Q: What are your plans regarding energy storage technology and its application in your projects?
A: We are very interested in this technology and we are reviewing the potential acquisition of a project that includes battery storage. We are also in discussions with a US company that provides storage to generation projects.
Our goal is to find a suitable partner with enough experience in this technology. Regulation in Mexico is still lacking regarding energy storage, though. As in most new technologies, government incentives through supporting regulations are generally necessary to make new-technology projects profitable.