Ministry of Energy Blocks Solar Project in Baja CaliforniaBy Cas Biekmann | Wed, 08/26/2020 - 09:14
Jaime Bonilla, Governor of Baja California, plans to tender a US$200 million solar plant to solve energy deficiencies in his state, which remains disconnected from Mexico’s national grid. However, he has met resistance from Mexico’s Ministry of Energy. Based on reports from local news outlet La Voz de La Frontera, Bonilla has been in contact with Minister of Energy Rocío Nahle, who stated that CFE was planning to build a power plant in that state already.
Baja California has long struggled to meet its energy demand, leading its government to search for adequate solutions. The state opened its ‘Inter-Institutional Call for Energy of the Executive Power of Baja California’ merely a few days ago. With the tender, a private company would support the US$200 million investment and in turn be able to sell energy to the state of Baja California.
Yet, Rocío Nahle, Minister of Energy, did not necessarily agree with Bonilla’s decision in the matter. Even though the project had already received approval from Baja California’s congress, Nahle asked Bonilla to wait as the federal state had planned a power plant in the region already. The governor did not seem satisfied with this answer. Bonilla argues that Baja California had been ‘abandoned’ for a long time by the federal government. Now that the governor is taking steps, after talks with Head of CFE Manuel Bartlett did not move along, he finally sees some response from the federal government.
According to Bonilla, Bartlett had requested the governor to arrange for Baja California’s connection to the national electricity network. But the investment needed for this significant infrastructural project is around US$2 billion; an amount Baja California does not have. Based on Bonilla’s report, the government was therefore looking to discuss CFE building a power plant in the region instead.
For Baja California’s solar plant, three business groups had already been moving ahead on the tender: Abengoa’s subsidiary Abent 3t, Bas Corporation’s subsidiary Juárez Renovables and Esco Comercializadora Energética.
With a population increase predicted from 3.6 million in 2020 to 3.9 million by 2025 according to BN Americas, the state is looking to resolve its energy deficiencies fast. Solar, wind and geothermal energy are by far the most viable options to break the hegemony of Baja California’s imported gas. Eighty-seven percent of Baja California’s energy needs are met by gas imports from the US, which makes energy a costly resource in the region.