Energy sovereignty?

With late payments to the CFE and current contracts for the supply of electricity with Californian companies, the Moreno governor of Baja California, Jaime Bonilla called – in the middle of his term – a private initiative to build the largest photovoltaic farm in Latin America.

The high fees of the parastatal company undermine state finances, but above all, the family economy. Governor Bonilla wanted to “break the mold” and develop a new plant to supply electricity to public offices and the pumping system of the Colorado River agreement to Tijuana and Mexicali.

“We decided to buy the milk, not the cow,” summed up the Moreno president on June 18, after the Monterrey company Next Energy began work to build the photovoltaic farm. 10 months of controversy had passed, including a harsh exchange between Bonilla and the head of the Ministry of Energy.

On August 21, 2020, Rocío Nahle García signed an official letter to warn the border governor, for an alleged usurpation of functions, and remind him that power plants require authorization from the CRE and CENACE. The failure of the tender was in the making. The Baja California government was spending 1,000 million pesos on the electricity bill for the aqueduct. With renewable energy, Bonilla wanted to reduce expenses and guarantee the supply of drinking water for Tijuana and Playas de Rosarito.

The water operator is the main consumer of electricity in Baja California. During the summer, the Río Colorado-Tijuana aqueduct is forced to reduce or suspend operations during peak hours (with higher heat), which generates a decrease in the level of the El Carrizo dam, from which – after being purified – is distributed to the population centers of the border strip. The latent risk is that times of low water, the reserve will be exhausted.

Bonilla’s response came on August 28. “I disagree with his position and I consider that it is not properly founded,” the president said, “(but) it is not in my interest to initiate an exchange of technical-legal opinions that do not result in results.”

Among the opponents of the photovoltaic plant there was a broad sector of Moreno, who described the concession as a “neoliberal” measure that would affect the most humble families, with high electricity rates. The municipalization of the water system was another bonillista proposal that faced local resistance.

The then federal deputy Marina del Pilar Ávila intervened in the debate, who would be nominated by Morena as a candidate for governor. Ávila won the governorship before the complaint was filed against the former Secretary of the Treasury of the state administration, Rodolfo Castro Valdez, for managing a loan for 270 million dollars to finance the mega-project. The change of powers will occur within two weeks and then it will be known if the new administration complies with the bonillista legacy.

Nahle García was not the only official of the 4T confronted by the outgoing governor, who questioned the general director of the IMSS, Zoe Robledo Aburto, for his refusal to vaccinate the personnel of that institution’s hospitals in Baja California.

Two delegates from the IMSS passed through the entity. Salvador Morales Riubí spent just seven months and after a quarter without a head – in the midst of a pandemic – Desireé Sagarnaga Durante took office.

Yesterday, in Mexicali, a citizen contingent blocked the access to the Institute’s headquarters to again demand the resignation of the official. To the claims of employees and beneficiaries, the answer is irrefutable: he won his place by competition. The bondholders assumed that Robledo Aburto held it, to make Bonilla uncomfortable.


Vital signs

Journalist and columnist for El Economista, author of Doña Perpetua: the power and opulence of Elba Esther Gordillo. Elba Esther Gordillo against the SEP.

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