A controversial wind farm proposed for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca has been approved by a community assembly after eight months of consultation.
It was the first wind farm project in Oaxaca to undergo a new review process intended to be open and inclusive, and one that follows international regulations requiring consultation with indigenous groups. It also calls for public approval of such projects.
Although residents opposed to the project proposed by Energía Eólica del Sur have blocked highways and occupied municipal headquarters in Juchitán, there were only two votes against it at the six-hour community meeting.
The 14.5-billion-peso project, which will consist of 132 turbines on 5,332 hectares of land, is the second attempt to install the wind farm in the region. The first proposal was canceled last year in the face of strong local opposition.
About the only difference this time around appears to be a new location some 50 kilometers away.
Proponents told residents at this week’s assembly that the wind farm will provide a boost to development in the region and provide employment during and after construction.
Local citizens will also benefit from reductions in electricity tariffs amounting to as much as 45%.
The federal government has proposed the establishment of a center for alternative energy to develop alternative energy projects, and the state government has said it will create a fund to finance projects to encourage community development.
One of the project’s opponents has vowed to continue to fight it, claiming that the consultation process was “a farce.” Rodrigo Peñalosa of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus said that process was manipulated and that organizations that questioned the project were excluded.
Among the concerns of opponents is that the turbines will adversely effect fishing, an important economic resource, and that noise and vibration will have negative effects on the health of nearby residents.
There are about 20 wind farms operating in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a narrow and windy piece of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.