Mexico offers peek under its sombrero for power execs

The peso may be struggling to make a comeback from Mexico`s economic crisis of recent years, but the Mexican power industry is experiencing strong growth under the close supervision and direction of the Comission Federal de Electricidad (CFE). CFE and PennWell Publishing`s Conferences & Exhibitions Division recently sponsored Mexico Power in Monterrey to bring the local industry together. With 92 exhibitors and 2,067 attendees, the show was an unqualified success for the powerful utility, as industry leaders, manufacturers and engineers spent three days in a beautiful city in northern Mexico, planning the future of the nation`s power industry.

CFE boasts impressive growth in generating capacity. At the beginning of 1995, the utility had 3,286.5 MW under construction. That year saw 1,534.5 MW enter commercial operation, with another 1,652 MW in pre-operation trials and another 100 MW still under construction. Of 1995`s additions, 654.5 MW are nuclear, 350 MW coal, 320 MW oil and gas, and 210 MW hydroelectric.

CFE`s installed capacity grew to 32,166 MW by end of 1995, a 4.5 percent jump from 1994. Installed capacity includes 149 power plants with 524 units. There are 62 hydroelectric plants, 28 fuel oil- or gas-operated facilities, 31 gas turbine power plants, 12 internal combustion plants, six combined-cycle plants and one dual power plant which can use fuel oil or coal. Also, five geothermal power plants, two coal-fired plants, one nuclear plant and one seven-unit windmill plant. CFE also retired 144.4 MW of capacity in 1995 and reduced two plants` production by 31.97 MW.

In 1995, electric power generation reached 141 TWh, a 3.7 percent increase from 1994. Electric power from hydrocarbon was reduced from 63.4 percent to 56.5 percent, largely due to the completion of the nuclear plant. Hydroelectric generation for the year was also extraordinarily high, contributing 18.9 percent of the country`s generation.

CFE is battling to meet the electrification needs of small, rural communities. “A means providing safety and progress to inhabitants by means of lighting is achieved aside from incrementing the productive options of communication and entertainment. From the economic point of view, electricity is an element allowing the utilization of power equipment, such as electric motors to pump drinking water, agriculture irrigation water and family workshops, among other things,” according to a CFE spokesperson. CFE, by means of the Rural Villages and Popular Areas Programs, supplied electric power to 1,097 rural villages and 372 popular areas benefiting 422,000 inhabitants in 1995. According to the 1995-2000 National Plan of Development, all villages of more than 100 inhabitants will have electricity. As of December 1995, 83.4 percent of the rural areas had electricity, while urban areas were 99 percent electrified, with a total coverage of 94.7 percent.

Despite the ongoing economic crisis in Mexico, CFE`s power sales jumped 4 percent in 1995, as the industrial sector grew 7.7 percent, accounting for 42.6 percent of the nation`s consumption. Residential growth was 2.9 percent for the year and the commercial sector showed a 1.7 percent decrease.