Seventeen United States energy companies have committed to invest in solar and wind projects in Mexico, President López Obrador said Friday.
In a virtual address to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden, López Obrador presented 10 “actions” Mexico is “implementing in the fight against climate change.”
“… [Action] five – two weeks ago we held dialogue and [reached] agreements with 17 United States companies from the energy sector to guarantee investment earmarked to generate 1,854 megawatts of solar and wind energy,” he said.
“[Action] six – stemming from these agreements, the creation of solar parks on Mexico’s border with the United States, as well as the construction of energy transmission networks that allow electricity to be exported to California and other states of the United States, is being explored,” López Obrador said.
The president didn’t say how much money the U.S. companies had committed to invest in Mexico, where the government he leads has been more hostile than welcoming to private renewable energy firms.
Among the other climate change-fighting actions cited by López Obrador were the modernization of 16 hydroelectric plants; Pemex’s investment of US $2 billion to reduce its methane gas emissions by up to 98%; the construction of a 1,000-megawatt solar farm in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora; and the planting of fruit and timber-yielding trees on 1 million hectares of land by means of the Sembrando Vida (Sowing Life) employment/reforestation program.
“[Action] 10 – we maintain the commitment to produce, by 2024 at the latest, 35% of all the energy we consume in the country from clean and renewable sources,” he said.
A National Action Party (PAN) deputy said he wasn’t convinced the 17 United States energy companies López Obrador spoke of will end up investing in Mexico because the president has a tendency to say yes to something only to say no later.
“Let’s see if they comply or not with the [clean] electricity commitments, because … [the government] has taken decisions before that are contrary to [the interests of] the country,” said Ignacio Loyola, a member of a congressional energy committee and a former governor of Querétaro.
“There have been contradictions in [energy] policy, … the position the country is in to generate electricity and sell it to the United States has been wasted, they’ve bet on fossil fuels when we should no longer do that. That’s why I won’t believe the president until I see what he has announced is a reality.”
Citizens Movement party Deputy Manuel Herrera said it is contradictory for López Obrador to be talking about welcoming U.S. energy companies to Mexico at the same time that the Energy Ministry is taking steps to force private companies to purchase gas from Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).
“The Energy Ministry agreement violates free competition, it’s … a blow to the private sector. … There’s no consistency between what is said and what is done. The president is going one way and his cabinet another, which affects the country’s image and the relationship with the United States,” he said.
The U.S. was a vocal critic of a constitutional bill that would have overhauled the electricity market to favor the state-owned CFE and thus limited the participation of private and foreign energy companies, but it failed to attract the two-thirds support it needed to pass the lower house of Congress.