CFE confirms new power plant in Yucatan

CFE. Photo: Punto Medio
Photo: Punto Medio

Merida, Yucatan — After continuing problems with the power grid and a surprise promise from the president, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) confirmed that it will build a new electricity plant on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Its location was not disclosed.

At a press conference, the CFE’s corporate director of operations, Carlos Morales Mar, said that “a kilowatt has not been built” on the Yucatan Peninsula since 2007.

“We think about a combined cycle of 500 megawatts, but initially we could install the turbogas units, which are part of the combined cycle and have 300 megawatts sooner, and then give a growth of this generation with a second stage,” he said, describing its capacity.

Manuel Bartlett Diaz, who was appointed by the president to lead the CFE, said that the Mayakan gas pipeline and Pemex’s problems have combined to make the new plant necessary.

The CFE officially states that Yucatan’s power grid is sufficient, in theory, to cover the Peninsula’s demands, but it is necessary to reinforce the three existing power plants.

“The president (Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador) spoke of promoting a new plant to generate energy and strengthen the ones that exist on the Peninsula, and obviously carry gas, because if not, it is useless,” said Bartlett Diaz.

CFE is looking for other solutions to bring natural gas to the Yucatan, he said.

The government is under pressure to fix Yucatan’s persistent energy shortage. While it is working to attract investment to the region, events like April’s power outage call these ambitions into question.

Over 1.6 million people on the Peninsula’s three states were without electricity for three and-a-half hours. Arson was initially blamed, but later the problem was attribute to a shortage in natural gas, which powers CFE’s turbines.

Another outage affected just over 351,000 users on March 8; Bartlett Diaz also blamed on intentional fires.

Power demand in this region is expected to grow if President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s plan for the Mayan Train is fulfilled.

The areas where the outages occurred is adjacent to Tabasco, where the government plans to build Mexico’s seventh oil refinery.

The Yucatan peninsula is connected to the grid in Chiapas state via a 1,200MW direct current line that connects mostly hydropower generation to Escarcega, Campeche.

Campeche relies mostly on 400kV transmission lines and Yucatan and Quintana Roo mostly on 230kV.

An additional 1,500MW direct current line project would cater to growing demand in the Peninsula, but it has been stalled for three years. Power administrator Cenace last included the project in Mexico’s planning guide for 2017-2031 but not in the 2018-2032 version.

Cenace told Argus, a commodities market blog, in November that Lopez Obrador should consider the project to improve power supply on the Peninsula. The project would take advantage of Oaxaca’s wind capacity, which is the largest in the country and is not connected to the national grid.

Sources: Punto Medio, Argus

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