CFE Plant Towers Collapse From Disrepair
By KELIN DILLON
On Tuesday, March 1, the cooling towers of Mexico’s state-owned Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) thermoelectric plant in Mérida, Yucatán, collapsed in an incident facility workers say was triggered by a lack of maintenance.
Ironically, the plant’s structural failure comes amid Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) repeated talk-ups of CFE infrastructure as the executive looks to push through his controversial electricity reform, which would give the government-owned company a majority stake and priority upload to Mexico’s grid ahead of private sector and clean energies.
Originally opened in 1971, the 198 megawatt plant – known as the Mérida ll – has been allocated little maintenance budget from the federal government in recent years, only receiving 5.5 million pesos this past year for the upkeep of the facility’s two turbines.
After a video of water leaking from the collapsed towers went viral that same day, workers from the Mérida ll plant said that they had already reported the facility’s urgent need for maintenance to the CFE, but had received no response in return.
While a CFE spokesperson said the company would be investigating into the issue, CFE Director Manuel Bartlett, in a public meeting with legislators, claimed that Mexico’s electricity sector requires “no more private investment” due to the CFE’s expansive infrastructure, despite the Mérida ll incident occurring only days before.