Iberdrola Brings Electricity to Vulnerable Communities in OaxacaBy María José Goytia | Wed, 05/25/2022 - 18:26
Vulnerable communities in Oaxaca gained access to electricity thanks to the Lights of Hope program carried out by Iberdrola and Iluméxico. Through the installation of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, the program fights energy poverty in communities that cannot be interconnected to the national grid due to their remoteness.
Iberdrola has recently reached three vulnerable municipalities in Oaxaca to carry out the second installation phase of the program. The initiative started in 2019 in the Huasteca region of San Luis Potosi. Due to its success, the second round of distributed generation (DG) installation was designed to improve access to energy in Oaxacan municipalities, where 800 people live in 195 homes in the municipalities of San Pedro Pochutla, Matias Romero and San Juan Guichicovi were benefited.
Mexico faces worrying energy poverty figures. According to the think tank México Evalúa, 1 percent of the total population lives under energy poverty conditions. Approximately 352,000 households hosting 13.5 million Mexicans live without access to the minimum electricity required to cover their basic needs.
Lights of Hope uses a methodology based on a community diagnosis regarding its present and future energy needs. Marisol del Campo Martínez, Commercial Director, Iluméxico explains that DG "is a technological solution that adjusts to community needs." The panels installed make it possible to monitor the energy consumption, allowing inhabitants to know their energy demand and manage it according to their needs.
The isolated solar systems provide 1.5 kWh/d, which allows for the use of four low-consumption light bulbs, a few electrical appliances such as a small refrigerator or a television and the capacity to charge cell phones or other devices. The solar systems include a battery that can last up to 5 years. When it eventually expires, Iberdrola will replace the battery twice for free.
One of the main changes for the local people is the adaptation of their daily routines, as they no longer depend on sunlight to carry out daily activities. Furthermore, the access to electricity translates to reduced household expenses, for example on batteries or oil for lanterns. With these savings, families can spend a greater percentage of their expenses on necessities.
In addition to installing the panels, Iberdrola organizes workshops to train residents of the region to use, handle and care for the DG systems. The company also fosters environmental education to raise awareness about renewable energy.
Iluméxico will revise the solar panels twice a year. In addition, the monitoring system allow the companies to detect any malfunction that needs to be repaired. This maintenance and repair service also creates jobs within these communities.
Lights of Hope is part of Iberdrola's sustainability strategy. The Spanish company has invested around MX$40 million (US$2 million) since the inception of the program in 2019. The Spanish energy giant plans to continue investing in the program, spending up to MX$80 million (US$4 million) by 2024 to improve access to electricity for 12,000 people living in energy poverty.