Governor Asserts Federal Support for Queried Solar ProjectBy Cas Biekmann | Fri, 09/10/2021 - 09:50
Baja California’s state government Jaime Bonilla unveiled progress regarding last year’s solar power plant tender in a recent opening ceremony. The project’s tender caused friction with Mexico’s federal government, although Bonilla emphasized he has the federal government’s support.
With the solar project awarded to Next Energy in October 2020, Bonilla hopes to power the Rio Colorado-Tijuana aqueduct as well as government buildings. The 385MW photovoltaic solar project in Mexicali requires an investment of around MX$14 billion pesos (US$698 million), which the private company will provide. The solar project will feature a storage component to boot.
For Baja California, the solar project will go a long way in resolving the state’s energy deficit. Baja California remains unconnected from Mexico’s nationally interconnected grid system. Met with a growing energy demand, the state often is forced rely on backup power generators, but local grid stability remains wobbly. Some international private power producers operate power plants in Baja California, but instead choose to export their electricity to the US. Local news sources from the state reported that governor Bonilla felt “abandoned” by the federal government and thus set out to resolve the issue by tendering a solar project. After the tender was launched, SENER emphasized it aimed to construct more power plants in the peninsula and that states cannot simply call for tenders on their own accord, suggesting a growing conflict between the state and federal entities. Nevertheless, Bonilla highlighted that the project would be approved and supported by the López Obrador administration in a presentation on June 15. Just like the president himself, Bonilla is part of the political party MORENA. The state’s incoming governor Marina del Pilar was present at the ceremony as well.
This federal support would be crucial to the project’s viability. El Financiero reported that on July 8, regulatory body CRE denied two electricity generating permits to entities from Hive solar because the projects did not count with correct authorizations and social impact studies from SENER. A government functionary from Baja California did not give further details, nor on the tender that NEXT Energy won. This led El Financiero to believe that NEXT’s project might face similar issues, seeing that the tender itself was not recognized as done correctly by SENER. The state functionary did not discuss the matter further with the news outlet.