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Electricity commission blames wildfire, renewable energy for Monday’s power outage

But a statement giving details of the fire has been denounced as false by Civil Protection officials

The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has blamed a wildfire, renewable energy producers and court rulings for the massive power outage that affected more than 10 million customers in a dozen states on Monday.

But the evidence of a wildfire has been refuted and an energy specialist says the CFE is lying about the cause of the power failure.

On Tuesday the CFE and the National Energy Control Center (Cenace) held a joint press conference to announce that the outage was triggered by a 30-hectare wildfire in Paudilla, Tamaulipas.

The CFE said the fire affected transmission lines running between Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, and Linares, Nuevo León, presenting evidence of the fire in a statement supposedly issued by the Tamaulipas Civil Protection agency.

But officials said the fire was not the only reason for the outage, which left some 35 million people without electricity for as long as two hours.

Cenace chief Carlos Menéndez said the electrical grid had been weakened at the time of the fire by a high concentration of renewable energy.

He said an unprecedented 28.7% of the electrical energy in the system was from renewable sources, “weakening” it and creating instability.

A CFE official offered that the system’s failure was a result of indiscriminate granting of permits to wind and solar energy producers. In addition, said Mario Morales Vielmas, the government’s efforts to stabilize the electrical network had been thwarted by the judicial system’s rulings against a new energy policy that was intended to give the government more control over the network.

The arguments were quickly called in to question, first by Civil Protection authorities in Tamaulipas who said they had no knowledge of a fire or the “official statement” exhibited by the CFE.

Civil Protection director Pedro Granados Ramírez later declared that the document was false. The logo it bore was not that of his office, the folio number did not coincide with those in use and the signature was not that of the official named, he said.

Energy expert Gonzalo Monroy said on Tuesday it wasn’t possible that renewable energy producers could have caused the outage, and accused the CFE of lying.

He said problems with the line were identified in 2016 and never corrected.

“They are trying to make an unsustainable technical argument in order to blame renewable energy suppliers.”

Monroy called for an independent investigation, claiming that the CFE doesn’t know the reason for massive power failure.

He said it was likely a lack of maintenance.

There hasn’t been an outage of the same magnitude since 1971, the energy specialist said.

President López Obrador weighed in on the issue at Wednesday morning’s press conference, claiming that the backlash over the incident was part of a conservative ploy.

He accused conservatives of “digging for a scandal” because “they’re eager to see the energy sector sold off to private citizens.”

Source: Milenio (sp), El Universal (sp), Reforma (sp)

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