MEXICO CITY, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Mexico is going ahead with a wind power project at Santa Catarina in the north that will add up to 22 megawatts of electricity generation capacity to the national grid.
The start of construction work on the project was announced by Conduit Capital Partners LLC, a U.S. private equity investment firm with several ongoing energy infrastructure projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Mexico is trying to cut dependence on imports of natural gas, including liquid natural gas, that are a drain on the country's foreign exchange resources. The United States is a major source of gas used in producing electricity in Mexico.
Mexico's sole nuclear power plant contributes less than 2.5 percent of the installed power generation capacity. Plans for solar power and other renewable means of power generation are being delayed.
About 75 percent of Mexico's electricity needs still have to be met from thermal sources while about 20 percent attributed to hydroelectric power isn't always produced to optimum capacity. Critics say entrenched political and business interests continue to resist much needed reforms in Mexico's energy sector.
The 22-megawatt wind project is an ambitious undertaking and officials hope it will move quickly into profit. Once completed, the Santa Catarina plant will sell energy under long-term power purchase agreements with municipalities around the city of Monterrey.
Conduit Managing Partner Marc Frishman said the wind power technology will be "vital for meeting Mexico's future power needs at reasonable costs."
Wind turbine generators for the plant will be supplied by GE and other partners will work on other aspects of infrastructural development. "GE have worked closely with us to optimize the wind resource and we look forward to building a plant that will lead the way in expanding access to creative energy solutions," Frishman said.
Conduit acquired the Santa Catarina project through the firm's Latin Power III Fund, along with long-term partner Comexhidro SA de CV of Mexico, in late 2010. Asergen SC, an affiliated company of Comexhidro, is also managing the project.
Conduit worked earlier in Mexico on hydroelectric projects in Trojes, Chilatan and El Gallo for a total addition of 52 megawatt to the grid and 39-mile natural gas pipeline. Together with Comexhidro, Conduit is an investor in two small hydroelectric projects in construction in Southern Mexico that will add another 45 megawatt to the grid.
Conduit Capital Partners LLC has headquarters in New York and has been working on several power projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama and Peru.