Miguel Ángel Alonso
Director General
Acciona Energía México

Social Relationship Are Essential for Success

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 13:06

The Energy Reform will be advantageous for companies in the wind sector, but Acciona Energía (Acciona) seems to be already reaping the benefits. Acciona was actively involved in the development of the Energy Reform, both individually and as part of associations like AMDEE and AME. The efforts of these associations greatly contributed to the issuing of Transitory Article 13 of the Law of the Electricity Industry, which is noted for distinguishing legacy projects from new ones. “The members of AMDEE believed this to be a mandatory article the legislation, since it was crucial to provide certainty for all the projects that were already under development. Had this transitory article not been approved, project developments, and investments would have halted,” shares Miguel Ángel Alonso, Director General of Acciona Energía México.

Acciona’s strategy is centered on stable growth at a steady pace; so its current condition will enable the company to develop more projects, with certainty that the law is protecting its assets. “The incorporation of additional megawatts in the company’s portfolio fluctuates because of the rate at which projects are built, but on average we grow by 150MW annually. The new legislative framework will push us to increase this number and also diversify our energy matrix,” tells Alonso.

Transitory Article 13 of the Law of the Electricity Industry protected Acciona’s four running projects, which amount to 558MW. Since the issuing of the Energy Reform, Acciona has closed deals for two EPC projects with third parties, the first being a 250MW project for Blackstone developed by CEMEX, and the second one a 50MW project with Actis that was later sold to Zuma Energía. “This was a project we developed and then sold because we were growing too much in one area and we saw an opportunity to diversify geographically,” explains Alonso. He emphasizes that Mexico has plenty of wind resources distributed across different regions that can be developed if the proper infrastructure is built. “The Burgos basin has some of the best wind resources, with productive hours equivalent to those in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Transmission lines are being built, such as the La Huasteca- Monterrey transmission line, but at the moment there is no transmission capacity in Burgos.”

The 558MW Acciona has installed across Oaxaca are an achievement that should not be overlooked. The key to the company’s success, according to Alonso, is deeply rooted in community relations. “We engage in social development because it is inherent to the company. When we saw the conditions under which the people of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec live, we saw a perfect opportunity to implement Acciona’s social programs without amalgamating them with the construction of our projects,” shares Alonso. In addition, he notes that when the communities noticed Acciona’s approach, they realized that the company’s social commitment was not some sort of currency the firm was using in exchange for their approval.

Nonetheless, Alonso claims that, at first, his company experienced the same hurdles as any other wind power player; there was constant opposition to the wind farms and projects were being blocked. This was further complicated by the fact that Acciona did not fully understand the Isthmus’ culture. Alonso says that being faithful to its word helped Acciona establish a solid relationship with the people in the communities. Dialogue is just one part of the endeavor. According to Alonso, companies that work in the communities should contribute to improving living conditions. Acciona has several social responsibility programs that have been successfully received in Mexico. The Luz en Casa program began in Peru, where it has been developed the most. It consists of bringing electricity to households that do not have access to the grid. Acciona was determined to bring the project to Mexico, and at first it implied a lot of work because of the geographic conditions of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. However, these challenges were overcome and now Acciona has installed close to 1,800 electric systems in the region. It is not surprising that Alonso considers this to be Acciona’s flagship social program. Other social programs have also had a positive impact in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, such that with Mexfam for the detection of cervical cancer and HIV. “I believe this has been one of our most effective social programs, and I would like to keep it running for several years,” comments Alonso.