Companies Achieve Suspension Against SENER PolicyBy Cas Biekmann | Fri, 05/22/2020 - 11:59
SENER’s controversial policy and the chain of legal reactions are at the center of the weekly energy roundup. Furthermore, some controversy regarding potential fracking in Mexico is dispelled. Read all about it here!
SENER Publishes Policy Blocking Renewable Energy Tests, Private Companies Achieve Suspension
The top story this week revolves around the issue between the government and the private sector, involving the role of renewable energies in Mexico and CFE´s position regarding these. . SENER published its controversial measure, titled the ‘Policy for Reliability, Safety, Continuity and Quality in the National Electric System’ on Friday, May 15 in the official state gazette. César Hernández Ochoa, former commissioner of the National Commission for Regulatory Improvement (CONAMER), presented his resignation after he tried to block the policy.
With the measure, Mexico’s SENER has gained the power to impose new tests and limitations on renewable projects such as solar and wind. Furthermore, CENACE can now disallow new plant study requests and prioritize state company CFE. Reactions from the private sector followed suit directly after. Last Friday, a court granted FV Mexsolar XI and two anonymous companies a provisional suspension against the effects of this agreement, meaning that the measure for now is stalled in Veracruz. The court stated in its decision that the government is now required to justify its policy. More cases were pending.
On Thursday, CENACE ordered the reactivation of crucial preoperative tests for 23 renewable power plants, after the company had evoked the ‘writ of amparo’ to protect their legal rights in court. After initially seeming to back down and granting the renewable power plants their tests, CENACE then announced it would contest the court decision. Even though the 23 renewable power plants now have their path toward going online cleared, COFECE is still considering further legal action as well, reported Reuters. On the other side, the government continues to elaborate on their side of the story.
Following this news, El Universal reported that CFE accused the federal judges who halted CENACE’s measure of putting the interests of private companies above the general interests of Mexico’s population, who need access to electricity first and foremost. Furthermore, CFE accused regulatory irregularities to be the basis on which private companies managed to attain the suspension. Therefore, SENER and CFE would be preparing to fight the judgement. President López Obrador stated that he was open to dialogue, but that private companies would not receive any privileges, as they had already received too many from the previous government.
What Are Mexico’s Plans for Fracking?
On Thursday there were reports about CNH approval of seven fracking-based projects. Although the commission was quick to say that the practice is illegal and these only concerned exploration efforts approved during the last administration, fracking could still make its entry in the future. This seems unlikely for the moment, however. Fracking has well-published environmental risks, including being linked to tremors and worries about pollution of ground water. As these issues have led to countries such as The Netherlands moving away from the practice, it is unlikely that President López Obrador will change his mind in the future; after all, he stated in official publications to be against the practice and re-affirmed that position this week.