Photo: CFE

By KELIN DILLON

Following controversial changes in Mexico’s electrical law, rammed through Congress on orders from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the government-owned Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) will reportedly use plants up to 41 years old, with no plans to replace them.

The newly passed law changes the order in which each kind of generated energy is uploaded to the national grid, prioritizing the CFE’s hydroelectric plants, followed by the state-owned company’s thermal plants, followed by private renewable plants and finally the combined cycle plants that were built under Mexico’s Independent Energy Producer initiative.

This prioritization puts the CFE’s decades-old plants as first place in line to upload their energy to the grid, which have been criticized by experts as environmentally unfriendly as well as cost inefficient.

Severo López Mestre, an expert in the energy sector, said the plants planned for use  “are between 30 and 40 years old, against independent producers that are a third of the average age.”

“In this scenario, the energy reform will not only give priority to those CFE plants, but it will also remove independent producers, which are the cheapest,” said López Mestre.

“The fact that the plants are old, and are even more stressed by increased operation, the only thing that it is going to cause is that the CFE has to invest more in maintenance,” added electricity specialist Elie Villeda.

The CFE made a plan 15 years ago to gradually phase out old plants in exchange for cheaper, modernized plants, an aspiration that never came to fruition and will be further delayed now, following the newfound prioritization of the costly senior plants.

…March 9, 2021

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