President López Obrador announced Wednesday that he expects the United States to finance the construction of four wind power plants in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
The plants are part of AMLO’s plan to build 10 industrial parks across the isthmus – the narrow section of southern Mexico between Oaxaca and Veracruz – linked by a renovated railroad project connecting the Pacific and Gulf coasts.
“There is a commitment, if the conditions are met, that four of the 10 parks are used for the generation of electricity by wind,” AMLO said. “It is an agreement with the U.S. government to contribute to facing the problem of climate change.”
He explained that U.S. banks or the U.S. government would finance the project through interest-free loans, and that companies from both countries will take part in the construction. The finished plants would be run by Mexico’s state-owned Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).
AMLO said he expected U.S. climate envoy John Kerry to visit the area in March to launch the project, accompanied by U.S. legislators and the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar.
The wind energy industry has previously accused AMLO’s government of causing stagnation in Mexico’s wind power sector through regulation that favors state-owned companies over private clean energy producers.
Mexico’s wind power capacity grew by only 2.2% in 2022, compared with 7.1% in 2021 and 24.7% on average over the last 12 years. Meanwhile, the CFE’s use of coal for electricity generation increased last year by 55%.
AMLO’s nationalistic energy policies have caused trade tensions with the U.S. and Canada, as well as casting doubts on his pledge to double the country’s renewable energy capacity by 2030.
Energy policy was a key topic at the North American Leaders Summit, held in Mexico City last month. At the summit, the leaders of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada pledged to take “rapid and coordinated measures to tackle the climate crisis” and to “accelerate the energy transition.”
These aims are already playing out in the northern border state of Sonora, where the U.S. is investing in the Sonora Clean Energy Plan. This seeks to boost solar power generation, lithium mining and electric vehicle manufacturing in Mexico’s northwest. The Puerto Peñasco solar power plant is expected to begin first phase operations in April.
During Wednesday’s press conference, AMLO continued to stoke rumors that U.S. electric carmaker Tesla is building a plant in Mexico, either in the state of Nuevo León or the state of Hidalgo. In December, the newspaper Milenio reported that Tesla would unveil its plans for a Nuevo León factory in January, but no official announcement has been made.
AMLO also stressed that the planned wind farms in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec would create jobs and development in Mexico’s poorer southern states.
“We are investing in the south and southeast, which was completely marginalized, and development is being balanced,” he said.
However, previous moves to build wind farms in the isthmus have met resistance from local residents. In particular, members of Oaxaca’s indigenous Zapotec community have opposed multinationals building wind farms on their communal lands, saying the companies failed to properly consult local people about the impact of the projects.
In November, an agrarian court in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca ruled in favor of the local Zapotec community against the company Mexican Wind Developments (Demex).