Corporate Wind Farms in Ixtepec vs community's inititiative, Oaxaca, Mexico

Ixtepec community take position against private wind farms and propose their own wind farm cooperative. They denounce government favoring big companies and claim energy sovereignty for their territory

Over the last 15 years, Mexico has registered a fast development of large-scale wind farms in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, located in the south-western part of Oaxaca State. This region is considered to have 44,000 MW of wind power potential capacity with 33,200 MW suitable for commercial development. As of the beginning of 2015, the Wind Corridor in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec comprises more than 15 private wind power projects reaching an accumulated installed capacity of 2,077.5 MW. These wind farms are located in remote and marginalized territories of indigenous groups in Oaxaca (Zapotecos and Huaves), while projects are destined to supply electricity for the increasing demand of national consumption areas and transnational production clusters. Opposition towards wind farms in the Isthmus started in 1994 and has gained force as private projects have spread out over the territory. In this context, local organizations expanded through several political instances with the contribution of different external actors. Groups have claimed that government and private companies have not made formal consultation processes to indigenous communities affected by windmills. They have also complained against illegal land leasing contracts and environmental impacts on construction and operation phases. Additionally, indigenous communities have made strongly complained against the privatization and dispossession processes over their lands and local resources. While reactive opposition against private wind farms was spreading throughout the Isthmus (see the case: Mareña Renovables in San Dionisio del Mar), new spaces of dialogue were organized to discuss some local alternatives. One of the most salient moments in this context occurred in August 2009, when the Assembly in Defense of the Land and Territory of the Indigenous People in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (“the Assembly”), and other local organizations celebrated a Forum in Juchitán called “Indigenous communities, self-determination and energy sovereignty‟. This Forum represented one of the first instances in the world to use the “energy sovereignty” concept, while it opened a space to discuss community wind farms as an alternative to the private model. In the context of this Forum, the active participation of a foreign foundation (The Yansa Group) played an important role to make local communities aware of the idea of community wind-farms. Thereafter, commune members of Ixtepec approached the Yansa Team in order to work together on the idea. During 2009 and 2010, three communal assemblies in Ixtepec were celebrated in order to include a community wind farm project in the community’s new territory plan. Additional enabling activities were conducted by Yansa, including community meetings and working groups, environmental assessments, contract negotiations, and siting logistics. This project shared some similarities with private wind-farms, including the scale (in terms of number of windmills and installed capacity) and the amount of investment required. However, the community wind farm plan was different in terms of ownership, revenue distribution and decision-making processes. Even further, it entailed an active participation of the community both through existing communal institutions (assembly and peasant‟s organization) and new spaces of decision making (women and youth forums). In order to obtain permits for construction and operation of the wind farm, the Yansa-Ixtepec project needed to comply with the Government’s requirements and participate in the 2012 call for tender. In this context, Yansa and the Ixtepec community decided to present the project in advance. However, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) dismissed the project arguing that the Community Interest Company was not an existing legal entity in Mexico. After this, the CFE opened two different tenders in the Ixtepec location. The conditions of both tenders were denounced by the community and Yansa as favoring big firms while establishing additional "padlocks" for their project. Different political reactions were manifested against the CFE decision. In October 2012, the House of Congress in Mexico approved an agreement to ask the CFE to stop the auctions favoring private companies and allow the Ixtepec community to start their project. Both left and right representatives claimed the urgent need to follow the national and international laws protecting indigenous communities, while supporting social alternatives to renewable energy production. These political pressures led the CFE to announce a temporal suspension of the tender. However, controversy remains open: while international media announces that Enel Green Power has already been awarded to develop the „Sureste‟ project, the Ixtepec community and Yansa keep pushing the issue. As stated in a recent forum celebrated in Ixtepec, the community continues to overcome obstacles for their project, while demanding the restitution of their land if CFE allows a private project in their territory. Key words: windmills, cooperative local enterprise, indigenous communities, "energy sovereignty"
Basic Data
NameCorporate Wind Farms in Ixtepec vs community's inititiative, Oaxaca, Mexico
SiteIxtepec municipality, Isthmus of Tehuantepec region
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Windmills
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
The community wind farm was projected to comprise 44 wind turbines with a 1000 MW installed capacity, located in an agricultural area of about 1,000 ha. This territory is partly occupied by farming plots, although most of the owners have their homes in other parts of Ixtepec.
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Project Area (in hectares)1,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date08/01/2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesENEL GREEN POWER from Italy
Relevant government actorsFederal Electricity Commission (Comisión Federal de Electricidad/CFE)

Federal House of Congress
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssembly in Defense of the Land and Territory of the Indigenous People in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

Yansa Group (Foundation associated with the Ixtepec community to develop the cooperative)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Referendum other local consultations
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Land dispossession
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseNegotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesThe community wind farm represents an alternative to the privately owned and profit-led wind farms that are currently expanding in the Ishtmus region.

The proposal is based on an emerging demand of energy sovereignty of the local population.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Controversy remains open by the middle of 2015.

While international media announces that Enel Green Power has already been awarded to develop the "Sureste‟ project in this location, the Ixtepec community and Yansa keep pushing the issue to develop the community wind farm.
Sources and Materials

Oceransky Sergio (2010), Fighting the Enclosure of Wind: Indigenous Resistance to the Privitization of Wind Resources in Southern Mexico, In: Abramsky Kolya (Ed), Sparking a worldwide energy revolution social struggles in the transition to a post-petrol world, CA: AK Press, Oakland, p.p. 505–522.

Hoffmann Julia (2012), The Social Power of Wind: The Role of Participation and Social Entrepreneurship in Overcoming Barriers for Community Wind Farm Development. Lessons from the Ixtepec Community Wind Farm Project in Mexico, Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science, No 2012:024, Lund University International Master‟s Programme in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science.

Gaceta Parlamentaria, Con punto de acuerdo, por el que se exhorta a la CFE a detener las licitaciones sobre contratos de parques eólicos en curso y las programadas para el futuro próximo, Número 3627-III, México, 2012.

Juárez Hernández Sergio & León Gabriel (2014), Energía Eólica en el Itsmo de Tehuantepec: desarrollo, actores y oposición social, Problemas del Desarrollo, Volumen 178, Número 45, p.p. 139-162.
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Méndez, Enrique and Garduño, Roberto, Proponen plan eólico alterno para Oaxaca, La Jornada, Published: 10/19/2012. Consulted: 06/23/2015.
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Reve, Nuevo parque eólico de Enel Green Power, REVE. Revista Eólica y del Vehículo Eléctrico, Published 07/19/2015, Consulted 08/14/2015.
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Vargas Martín, Intenta CFE evitar consulta indígena para eólicos en Ixtepec, El Imparcial, Published 08/03/2015, Consulted 08/14/2015.
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El Economista - Enel Green Power conecta parque eólico en Oaxaca
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APIIDTT (2009b) Asamblea en Defensa de la Tierra y el Territorio de Juchitán, Foro Comunidades Indígenas, Autodeterminación y Soberanía Energética, Published: 08/ 15/ 2009. Consulted: 07/02/2015.
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Yansa Group
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Martín Vargas, Proyecto del Parque Eólico Comunitario en Ixtepec. Tribuna informativa, Published: 10/2012, Consulted: 06/23/2015.
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Manzo, Diana, Acusan comuneros a CFE de vender al Istmo a transnacionales; proponen eólica comunitaria, Página3, Published: 10/15/2012, Consulted: 06/23/2015.
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Notimex; Diputados pedirán informe a CFE sobre licitación de parques eólicos, Sin embargo, Published: 10/18/2012. Consulted: 07/26/2015.
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Other Documents

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Meta Information
ContributorSofía Avila-Calero
Last update29/03/2017