Mexican president orders fraud complaints against solar and wind firms - report

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Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Image: ProtoplasmaKid.

Renewable energy companies operating in Mexico are to be formally accused of fraud in the latest twist in a simmering dispute between the country’s government and solar and wind developers.

According to a report by Reuters, Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador yesterday revealed that he had ordered formal complaints to be drawn up, alleging fraud against an unspecified number of renewable energy companies.

López Obrador reportedly gave no evidence of his claims, nor details of which companies would be targeted, but told reporters at a press briefing: “We want to talk to the companies one by one. At the same, I’ve given the order to begin drawing up formal complaints.”

The move is the latest in a string of actions by the Mexican government against renewables companies since Lopez Obrador came to power in 2018.

In May it emerged that Mexico’s grid operator CENACE had begun blocking the tests required by new renewable energy plants before being switched on. The state-owned body claimed the intermittency of PV and wind plants represented a threat to grid stability, particularly at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was escalating. 

This left 44 solar and wind assets effectively stranded and unable to pump the power they produce into the grid. The French developer Neoen said it faced losing millions every month from its 375MW El Lano project, which is completed but has not yet undergone the necessary testing.

CENACE’s block on testing followed earlier moves by the López Obrador government to undo the energy reforms instigated by his predecessor, including the cancellation of a major energy auction in February 2019. López Obrador’s government has also laid out plans to revisit the contracts awarded in previous power auctions on the basis that they were effectively being used to hand out subsidies to private energy companies.

Towards the end of May, local media reported that a judge ordered a temporary suspension of CENACE’s block on testing following a challenge by two developers.

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