Rafael Cabanillas, Director General, Energy Commission of Sonora, assured that the Sonora Plan focuses on social development. In addition to Puerto Peñasco’s solar plant, the state government has implemented a distributed generation program, which will benefit marginalized communities.
In an interview with Energia Estrategica, Cabanillas pointed out that Puerto Peñasco’s solar plant, one of the highlights of the Sonora Plan, is a clear example of the Federal Government’s efforts toward a fair energy transition. “This project strives for the country’s energy sovereignty through the use of national resources in a sustainable way, to increase the population’s standard of living, improve the economic competitiveness of the region and tackle energy poverty,” he said.
Upon construction, Puerto Peñasco is expected to become Latin America’s largest solar plant and the seventh of its kind in the world. It will have a total energy capacity of 1,000MW, plus 192MW with backup batteries. Moreover, it will benefit 1.6 million inhabitants, equivalent to 536,000 households, and avoid the emission of approximately 1.4 million t of CO2 per year.
According to Cabanillas, the Sonora Plan has a less commercial vision regarding energy production, putting more emphasis on social development with state level resources and private participation. “We see as a strength that the project is centralized by CFE, because it allows the planning to be done with time and sufficient social impact criteria. There is no free competition, plant growth plans have to be agreed and approved by the CFE," he stated.
On Feb. 17, 2022, President López Obrador inaugurated Phase 1 of Puerto Peñasco’s solar park. The first stage has a projected annual electricity production of 1,041.74GWh and is expected to begin commercial activity in May 2023. The second phase is currently under construction and is projected to be operational in June 2024. In parallel, Sonora’s government has implemented the Distributed Solar Generation Social Program, which contemplates the construction of 40 0.5MW solar plants located in vulnerable areas. "This program was proposed by the state government with the aim of having a positive social impact on marginalized communities. If the Sonora plan was only a matter of business for big companies and entrepreneurs, these small towns would not be electrified," said Cabanillas.
During a press conference, Alfonso Durazo, Governor of Sonora commented that four plants of the program are expected to begin operations by the end of 2023. Likewise, he added that the value of this energy will be distributed among the electricity bills of the inhabitants of the benefited towns to reduce the cost of electricity between 30 and 50%.
"The Sonora Plan seeks to reconcile the commercial and social development interests of the country. The private initiative continues to participate but in a more regulated way under state controls,” stressed Cabanillas.