Blackouts expected to continue in Yucatan and throughout Mexico

Government policy aggravates Mexico's vulnerable electricity grid

Traffic is directed around Merida's year-old international convention center when power was disrupted for a second time in a month. Photo: La Jornada Maya
Traffic is directed around Merida’s year-old international convention center when power was disrupted for a second time in a month. Photo: La Jornada Maya

Merida, Yucatan — The Yucatan Peninsula and other areas of the country will likely continue to suffer “major blackouts” the rest of the year.

Friday’s outage was the second in under a month, leaving millions of residents in three states without power for more than an hour. It’s an embarrassment to a region trying to present itself as a business and tourist center.

Two people were rescued from stalled elevators in the Centro and Col. Mexico during the blackout.

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While a fire near transformers in Campeche was blamed for the last two outages, the CFE utility is also withholding its energy reserves to meet demand in the year’s hottest period, according to El Diario.

In 2018 the reserve was equivalent to 6.6 percent of the year’s total energy consumption. The reserve this year is equivalent to just 1 or 2 percent.

Reserves “which will obviously be insufficient” and cause more blackouts, especially in June, July and August, according to the report.

They added that the decrease in the reserve is a consequence of the decision of the CFE to cancel the “fourth long-term auction,” which was to be held on Dec. 3 and that sought the assignment of electricity coverage contracts for the purchase of power, energy electric and clean energy certificates.

Mexico will no longer hold auctions to purchase electricity, Manuel Bartlett, the director general of the country’s state-owned utility CFE, said in a televised interview.

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“Why should we buy electricity when we can produce it ourselves? We are not going to discuss this, the CFE is not a company that buys electricity. It is a company that produces and distributes electricity. Why should anyone force us to buy electricity?” Bartlett told El Financiero.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador backed the state-owned oil company Pemex and the CFE as the leading energy suppliers. He claimed that the previous energy reform, which enabled the long-term auctions, legalized the pillage of the oil and electricity industry.

Guillermo Garcia Alcocer, the president of the Energy Regulatory Commission, is a vocal supporter of electricity auctions. As the head of the body that was in charge of the fourth auction, Garcia Alcocer has often been tweeting about the advantages that these procurements can bring to consumers and the environment.

Sources: Diario, El Financiero, Economista

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