The federal government will hold a public consultation later this month to ask citizens of Morelos if they are in favor of a thermal power plant starting operations.
President López Obrador said this morning that the vote on the plant, located in the municipality of Yecapixtla, will take place on February 23 and 24.
Citizens will face a single question: Do you agree with the Federal Electricity Commission’s Huesca thermal power plant starting operations?
The public consultation will be held across Morelos as well as in municipalities of Puebla and Tlaxcala through which a gas pipeline connected to the plant runs.
López Obrador said that cheaper electricity prices will be on offer to residents if they approve the opening of the plant.
“A proposal is being prepared so that the municipalities through which the gas pipeline passes and Cuautla [adjacent to Yecapixtla] . . . receive special treatment with regard to electricity charges, that they have lower rates as part of the reparations for damage with the idea that they will allow us to operate the plant because it’s needed,” he said.
The president said the government won’t act without the support of residents but stressed that if the plant isn’t put into operation, an investment of more than 20 billion pesos (US $1 billion) – “the people’s money” – will be lost and electricity will have to be bought from private companies.
“With this plant, we could produce energy for all of Morelos. If this plant doesn’t operate, we will have to buy energy from private, foreign companies. I say it as it is with complete clarity so that those who raise the flags of opposition to the plant, including for ideological reasons, also take that factor into consideration,” López Obrador said.
Some citizens’ groups have been opposed the construction of the plant and argue that its operation will be harmful to the environment.
But the president pledged that the plant will be clean and said he would ask the National Water Commission (Conagua) chief to certify the quality of wastewater it produces, which after treatment will be returned to communities for agricultural use.
Hugo Flores, the federal government’s delegate in the state, said that there are six injunctions against the project that have resulted in provisional suspensions of work, but explained that authorities will meet with those who filed them to seek a resolution.
The Huesca plant, made up of two separate 642-megawatt capacity thermal power stations, is part of the US $1.3 billion Integral Morelos Project that also involved construction of a 160-kilometer gas pipeline, a power line and an aqueduct.
López Obrador said that just 100 to 200 meters of the gas line needs to be completed in order for the power plant to be ready to start operations. However, protesters are currently stalling the project.
The public consultation, likely to be organized by the Secretariat of the Interior, will be the first since the new federal government took office on December 1.
Before he was sworn in, López Obrador arranged a vote on the new Mexico City airport, which resulted in the cancellation of the project.