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Mexico energy reforms include renewables, hydro

Mexico's Congress passed a package of bills October 28 to reform Mexico's oil and electricity sectors, including measures to advance renewable energy including hydropower.

The overhaul primarily is intended to reshape state oil monopoly Pemex and allow it to hire private companies to help it seek new sources of oil, particularly in deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. After six months of heated debate, deputies voted in a chaotic session of the lower house of Congress to approve the Senate-passed legislation.

About 30 leftist lawmakers stormed the podium, chanted slogans, waved flags and blew whistles in an attempt to derail the session. Several thousand protesters led by leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who narrowly lost the 2006 presidential election, surrounded Congress and blocked traffic, vowing to fight the reform measures.

Among other provisions, the legislation includes a new renewable energy law directing the Secretaria de Energia (Sener) to draft and coordinate a renewable energy program, including hydroelectric projects of up to 30 MW. Sener is to present goals for the program within six months of passage.

In addition to providing incentives for renewable energy sources, the legislation creates a fund for sustainable use of energy that is to receive 3 billion pesos (US$224 million) in federal spending in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

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