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"