President López Obrador Oversees Peñitas’ Modernization
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President López Obrador Oversees Peñitas’ Modernization

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María José Goytia By María José Goytia | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Tue, 03/15/2022 - 11:55

President López Obrador visited Chiapas over the weekend to oversee the modernization of the state’s hydroelectric powerplants. The president was accompanied by high-ranking federal government officials, as well as the US Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar. The visit occurred amid the Congressional energy reform discussion, a proposal that relies heavily on hydroelectric power production.

The president toured the Peñitas dam this past Saturday, inspecting the modernization works carried out by state-owned utility CFE and a consortium led by Andritz Hydro. The Ángel Albino Corzo Hydroelectric Power Plant, also known as Peñitas, is located in Ostuacán, Chiapas. Its modernization works are part of the president’s plan to upgrade hydroelectric plants throughout the country to strengthen hydro’s position within the energy matrix and CFE’s market position along with it. López Obrador was accompanied by CFE head Manuel Bartlett, Tabasco Governor Carlos Merino, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard and Minister of Energy Rocío Nahle.

"The renovation of the hydroelectric plants ordered by President López Obrador is underway. It involves changing turbines, equipment and extensive modernization works, which will significantly increase clean energy generation in Mexico," Ebrard stated on Twitter.

The US Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, also accompanied the president as a special guest, discussing energy issues along the way. "Back in the beautiful state of Chiapas. I am accompanying President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Marcelo Ebrard on an official visit to learn about the Mexican government's projects in energy matters," Salazar wrote on Twitter.

In addition to Peñitas, the Mexican government seeks to modernize three other hydroelectric plants located by the Grijalva river: Angostura, Chicoasén and Malpaso. In 2021, President López Obrador published the Hydroelectric Power Plant Modernization Plan, in which 120 new turbines will be acquired for 18 dams with an investment of US$1 billion. The main goal is to strengthen CFE’s generation capacity. Because hydroelectricity is a renewable energy source, it will not raise concerns regarding decarbonization, though some point out issues regarding droughts and water use.

Before the Peñitas visit, President López Obrador advocated for the use of hydroelectric plants during his work tour in Chiapas, where he highlighted that the dams do not produce power at full capacity due to the 2014 Energy Reform.  "Due to the Energy Reform, only one or two turbines work in each of the four hydroelectric plants, on average. The reform does not allow hydroelectric power plants to dispatch completely because they are not considered clean energy generators," said the president. Art. 2 of the current Electricity Industry Law (LIE), however, includes hydropower as a "clean energy resource," representing 44 percent of Mexico’s clean energy generation.

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