(Reuters, 1.May.2022) — Mexico’s biggest opposition party on Sunday proposed installing solar panels for free onto residential housing, staking out its renewable energy credentials as it seeks to challenge the ruling party of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Marko Cortes, leader of the center-right National Action Party (PAN), said the plan was to have state power utility Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) and the government put panels for free on all homes, “starting with the poorest.”
“People wouldn’t pay anything, or would pay a lot less for their electricity bill,” Cortes said in a video on Twitter, urging the government to adopt the plan.
Lopez Obrador, a popular president who has dominated Mexican politics since taking office in December 2018, suffered a reverse in Congress last month when the opposition united to vote down a constitutional overhaul of the power market.
The president’s plan sought to tighten CFE control of the market at the expense of private companies. That caused friction with investors in solar and wind power generation as well as manufacturers with commitments to use more clean energy.
The PAN pitch comes ahead of six gubernatorial elections in June, and as the opposition starts gearing up for the 2024 elections, when Lopez Obrador’s successor will be chosen.
Cortes said the solar panels would be paid for by a subsidy currently going to CFE, and be free for people in the lowest energy consumption bracket. The first phase of the initiative aimed to reach around 5 million households, he said.
Lopez Obrador, a leftist resource nationalist, argues past governments skewed the power market in favor of private capital at the expense of Mexico’s state power companies and consumers.
Critics dispute this, and argue his policies violate Mexico’s international trade accords, and will cause more pollution due to the degree to which CFE relies on fossil fuels from cash-strapped state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
Opposition politicians say the government’s policies have left the door open to them to make the case for renewable energy, and with it, more business investment in Mexico.
Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Marguerita Choy