Nearly all Mexican wind farms are privately owned, most often by transnational U.S. and European companies. While wind farms are touted as climate solutions, the profit-hungry companies are actually causing widespread damage to the regions they’re based in.
Almost two-thirds of Mexican towns and cities are currently facing severe water shortages, and the country’s Senate declaredThere will be a climate emergency in 2019. Mexico is facing a climate emergency in 2019. Instead of addressing these issues, alternative energy companies are focusing on exploiting cheap land, which is often the common property farmers and Indigenous people. While corporations like Coca-Cola and Walmart use the electricity generated by their plants, common lands are being sold to wind companies. pollutingAgriculture.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is pressuring Mexico to expedite permit granting and put U.S.-based energy companies first, at great expense to locals. The U.S. has opened a formal treaty dispute. The first round of consultations began on August 23.
Sempra Energy has a headquarters in San Diego and wind and solar farms in Mexico. nearThe U.S. frontier, as well the windiest areas of the country. It does this so it can pay low land rates and then exportThe energy generated to load-serving and industrial entitiesIn the U.S.
Sempra’s three wind farms and five solar plants are one example of a company profiting from Mexico, with little benefit to locals. Yaqui activist and opponent of the Sempra gas pipeline claims that he was accused by the Mexican government and the company of murder. He was in prisonSince 2016. He claims that Sempra, like many other energy companies has bribed different Yaqui tribes to help them build their territory.
Although Sempra doesn’t report its Mexico profits separately, the company made a total of $1.866 Last year, it was worth $1.2 billion.
Clean Energy, Dirty Profits
Industry and cars consume almost two-thirds of Mexico’s total energy consumption, with industry using double the energy of all residential use, according to government data.
High demand from industry and big business is partly why wind farm companies are selling electricity to other companies, rather than directly supplying homes — a model that has generated huge profits, according to Carlos Sanchez Martinez, a community radio activist and Zapoteca Indigenous person. Martinez has been active in the fight against wind farm companies in his Juchitan, Oaxaca area since 2002 when he was a high-school activist.
There are many lists of wind farms in Mexico. However, none are complete. The country’s statistics institute, INEGI, lists 20There are only two farms that are publicly owned, but at least one is a farm. 69Mexico has 15 wind farms.
“The wind farms, apart from generating wind energy, at an international level they auction off or sell carbon bonds … that’s how they are making profits from the strength of the wind,” Sanchez told Truthout. (With carbon bonds, companies can sell carbon “credits” and the entities buying them can then emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide.)
He accused the companies and their employees of bribing Indigenous People to get their land. “There’s a lot of money involved, and [the companies] don’t pay taxes,” he said. Because these companies also receive financial support from the state, “we are basically helping these companies, so they can access our electricity network.”
Truthout also talked to Teresa Souza Bosch, a Mexican lawyer specializing in environmental and energy law who has previously worked for Mexico’s environment ministry. She argued that private energy companies “will try to maximize their profits, which means they can enter into really predatory agreements with land owners, and that has been a problem.”
Oaxaca has a large proportion of Mexico’s wind farms. The state has 28 wind farms. 23mainly run by French or Spanish companies. The electricity generated by the plants is sold to Walmart, FEMSA (Coca-Cola), Nestlé, Nissan, Home Depot, Unilever, Heineken and Mexican companies like Grupo México, Bimbo (a food company), Bancomer (a bank), Soriana (supermarket chain), and others.
Mexican and international lawIt is a requirement that Indigenous peoples be consulted before any use of their land is made. However, this has not been done in Oaxaca. oneof the wind farms. The wind companies have effectively privatized the land and divided it up, taking up more than 50,000Common-use land totalling hectares
“The Mexican state and companies had secret meetings … and in those meetings, they divided up [Indigenous] peoples’ land, and the Mexican state gave [the companies] permits, protection and institutional support,” Sanchez said.
He said that the companies met with small farmers to tell them that they would make a lot of money renting their land out to them. But Iberdrola, a Spanish company that owns Ventosa’s wind farm, pays nothing $10Per hectare, per month to use the land. Landowners in the United States can earn an average of $1,050 per hectare. $3,000 to $7,000 per year for the area one turbine takes up — much less than a hectare.
“But individual agreements on collective or common lands are not allowed, and that means the wind farms in Oaxaca are illegal,” said Sanchez.
He also alleged that the wind companies used entities in the U.S. dedicated to destroying movements to quell resistance, “We know that in the U.S. they conducted strategic projects about how to deactivate the movement of Popular Assembly of the People of Juchitan [a group created to bring together various communities and farmers to oppose the wind farms and other attacks on the land and territory]. We obtained the documents,” he said.
He said that companies and the government conspire to bring down charges, persecute activists, and threaten anyone who resists. Sanchez has been facing five criminal charges by the government, wind farms, and himself. These include kidnapping and extortion lawsuits.
Sanchez also accused the companies of dumping oil on agricultural lands. Grupo Bimbo is a Mexican multinational food company that owns Piedra Larga. It is a wind farm located in Oaxaca. It was constructed in just a few days. 800Meters from homes. The turbines make a noise of 82 decibels. The blades drip oil onto the ground and trees were removed to make way for the turbines.
Although wind farms are perceived as a sustainable source of energy, “they don’t just contaminate our lives, but also our way of living,” Sanchez said. “They removed a whole forest area in order to plant the metal turbines. How can they kill life and then pretend to argue for an ecological project?”
Years of Zapoteca struggle has only recently achieved one. victory, with a court suspending a French company’s plans. The company planned to build the largest windfarm in Latin America. Activists claim harassment of common land owners was the reason. continueIn an effort to reverse suspension
Sustainability in the Face Global Inequality
Mexico and other poor countries have less resources to develop sustainable energy. South Africa has taken this into consideration. proposedIn 2021Richer countries pledge $750 billion to support poorer countries in achieving their climate goals. These funds could help Mexico reduce its dependence on transnationals.
Instead, Mexican companies pay less for land than their headquarter countries. “Where the turbines are, there are two payments,” Souza explained. “One for land use, and one for the amount of energy generated.”
Juchitan in Oaxaca is ranked ninth in terms of greatest potential energy generation worldwide, she stated. “They say that the winds are so strong the first wind turbines they bought broke.… So, you have a place that is geographically unique, that is generating a huge amount of energy, and at the same time you have a place that is Indigenous, and historically poor, and so a lot of companies (use that to) argue that the land is basically worthless.”
However, the same companies have agreements with European farmers, and “even though the energy generation is way lower, they are a lot more generous.”
Financial support isn’t enough, especially as governments continue to back their companies and insist on their “right” to exploit the land and resources in poorer countries.
The U.S. continues challenge Mexico’s energy policies and its attempt at some sovereignty, arguingMexico is violating the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. However, the agreement does not cover Mexico’s policies regarding Mexico prioritizing state-owned energy companies above private competitors. Still, the U.S. has claimed that delays in securing permits are “unfair” to its companies and demanded dispute settlement talks with Mexico in July.
The American Petroleum Institute and the American Clean Power Association said in a statement that Mexico’s policies were “discriminatory” and complained that by favoring state-run energy companies, Mexico was threatening “the prosperity of U.S. companies.” In a visit to the U.S. in July, however, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador metJeff Martins is the executive director at Sempra. Martins revealed new energy projects in Mexico during his visit.
Indigenous organizers have repeatedly warned that clean energy on its own isn’t enough. “I think if these wind projects were more humane, and they weren’t using technology to generate wealth, then wind could be a way to mitigate global warming,” Sanchez said.
He stated that Indigenous communities should share economic benefits. Additionally, better planning should be done. Companies are building wind farms “on very fertile land, and there’s no intention to set them up in the most appropriate places … there’s no control, they are just interested in hoarding land,” he said. “Our people have already given over so much of our land … and so often, in exchange for temporary work, and that’s inhumane.”