Investment in solar power systems for homes and small businesses in Mexico has been slowed down by legal action initiated by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), the National Solar Energy Association (ANES) has charged. ANES general secretary Héctor Hernández said people using small solar systems cannot currently sell the electricity they generate back to the CFE, a situation that he said is “holding back investment” in the sector.
CFE is the state-owned utility that formerly had a monopoly over power production and distribution, but now competition is allowed. A year ago, the CFE filed an injunction against regulations drawn up by the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) for the method used to calculate the rates it would pay to solar energy generators, arguing that they led to a loss of income because of the high transmission costs it incurred. Under the regulations, people with solar systems with distributed generation capacity could choose to sell surplus electricity, or all they generate. The former is known as net billing while the latter is referred to as total sale. Hernández charged that “there has been a bureaucratic brake [put] on the two segments that is related to the injunction.” He added that while the sector has grown at a rate of 110 percent over the past two years, that growth could reach 200 percent if investors could be certain about receiving payments from the CFE. “It’s not just [about] domestic users but investors who want to do business but don’t feel comfortable when they see an injunction,” Hernández said. In a statement, AMES said that “the most serious consequence of this injunction is that it puts the brakes on innovation, job creation and development of the energy sector.” The ruling is currently under review in a specialist economic court and the solar association is hopeful that a positive resolution can be reached. AMES also said that the legal predicament is preventing Mexico from reaching its full solar energy-producing potential. “Solar radiation [in Mexico] is 5.5 kilowatt hours per square meter per day, almost double what Germany receives. However, Germany is among the countries with the greatest installed [solar] capacity, [generating] more than 43 gigawatts in 2016, although it receives fewer hours of sun” the statement said.