Wind farms are in legal limbo. Wind farms are in legal limbo.

Legal challenges halt wind, hydro projects

Proponent claims opposition is from outside groups, not locals

The future of a series of investments in renewable energy sources amounting to over 19 billion pesos (just over US $1 billion) remains uncertain, because the communities where they would be located have filed amparos to halt them.

That’s the case with the 396-megawatt capacity Eólica del Sur wind farm in the Isthmus region of the state of Oaxaca. The project has been delayed by four years due to its rejection by a group of community land owners, or ejidatarios.

Their legal maneuver has halted the 14.5-billion-peso wind farm despite consultation with the people of Juchitán and El Espinal beforehand, and later obtaining their endorsement.

According to the former president of AMDEE, the Mexican Wind Energy Association, those who oppose the Eólica del Sur farm are not locals, but outside groups with other interests.

“There are groups, not the land owners or beneficiaries, who oppose the project. These political groups and non-governmental organizations provoke complex situations to their own advantage,” said Adrián Escofet.

The situation in the neighboring states of Puebla and Veracruz for investors in hydroelectric power generation is similar, according to the president of the Mexican Association of Hydroelectric Power, or Amexhidro.

There are four such projects in those states that have been suspended, said Jacobo Mekler, representing a total investment of 5 billion pesos (US $272 million), and a total installed capacity of 120 megawatts.

Towns and ejidos in those states have filed amparos against the projects, claiming they would cause environmental damage and that residents weren’t consulted.

Mekler said the four stalled projects represent a latent risk for the generation of the 5,300 megawatts that the Energy Secretariat estimates the country will need during the next 15 years. It has been estimated that generating that amount of power would require an investment of close to 300 billion pesos.

According to estimates by Mekler, between 700 and 4,000 studies for solar, hydroelectric, wind farm and combined cycle projects have been conducted in recent years in Mexico.

Up next for legal challenges could be solar power installations. The director of the Mexican Association of Photovoltaic Energy warned that once the federal auctions for electrical power contracts are completed, the projects could be halted by a series of amparos.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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