Business & Economy

Mexican pres. wants probe of judges over suspension of electricity overhaul

Mexico City, Mar 12 (efe-epa).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday he will seek a probe of the judges who suspended a recently enacted electricity sector overhaul, accusing them of acting on behalf of foreign companies and private interests.

“We’re going to go to the Supreme Court and we want the (Federal Judiciary Council, the body that oversees courts in Mexico) to review the actions of these judges, because it would be horrific if the country’s judicial branch were to be at the service” of private concerns, the head of state, popularly known as AMLO, said in his regular morning press conference at this capital’s National Palace.

He made his remarks a day after Federal Judge Juan Pablo Gomez Fierro provisionally suspended the overhaul of the Electricity Industry Law, a ruling handed down after injunction requests were filed by the companies Eoliatec and Zuma Energia’s La Orejana Solar Park.

The key impact of the legislation AMLO’s administration introduced to Congress in February to favor state-owned power utility Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) over private companies, particularly foreign-owned generators of renewable energy, is a modification of the dispatch rules under which electricity is fed to the power system.

Under the new regime, instead of the cheapest energy being used first, the Cenace power-grid operator will initially have to take electricity from hydroelectric power plants owned by the CFE.

Next in order of priority will be power from the CFE’s nuclear, geothermal, combined cycle and thermoelectric power plants, followed by solar and wind power stations owned by private entities and finally electricity from privately owned combined cycle power stations.

The overhaul, which eliminates key aspects of a broad 2013 energy reform that, in part, elevated the role of private and foreign investors in Mexico’s electricity sector, also requires the retroactive review of contracts that previous governments signed with independent power producers.

“These judges emerge, arise, when the energy reform is carried out in order to protect private, foreign companies, not to protect and defend the national interest. And so, just as the reform is being published, there’s the (writ of) amparo,” AMLO said, referring to a remedy in Mexico’s legal system for the protection of constitutional rights.

While the president was speaking at the National Palace, government supporters took to social media to express similar criticisms and spread the judge’s name and photo on the Internet.

“The owners of foreign companies, and also some Mexicans, are very upset about the electricity reform, but the truth is that they were acting abusively, selling electricity at a high price, receiving subsidies, benefiting from one-sided contracts,” Lopez Obrador said.

Besides legal challenges against the overhaul brought by private companies, the congressional opposition and some governors have announced that they will file a writ of unconstitutionality with the Supreme Court.

Congress and the executive branch, for their part, may now contest Gomez Fierro’s ruling by lodging a complaint with a collegiate tribunal, which would have 48 hours to hand down its decision.

The president insisted he is not seeking to fully reverse the sweeping 2013 energy overhaul that opened Mexico’s ailing oil industry to private investment for the first time in nearly eight decades and also allowed a bigger private role in other areas including the generation and sale of electricity.

“We’re not scrapping the energy reform. We’re trying to remove the sharpest edges of that reform,” he said.



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