Mexico’s new interconnection and connection rules for power plants and load centers

Mexico’s new interconnection and connection rules for power plants and load centers

The Mexican Ministry of Energy, known as SENER, has issued a manual with new rules governing the process to apply and obtain approval for power plants and load centers to interconnect to the national grid.

The manual replaces the previous rules established in the Criteria for the Specific Infrastructure Characteristics for the Interconnection of Power Plants and Connection of Load Centers.

Migration to the new regime

All interconnection and connection requests filed with Mexico’s independent system operator, the National Center of Energy Control or CENACE, prior to the enactment of the manual will continue to be subject to the Criteria. However, applicants may request to migrate to the new rules, in which case, the status and priority of their existing application will be honored, as well as that of any approved interconnection or connection studies.

If the applicant has already posted a performance guaranty, CENACE will determine if adjustments need to be made to the amount of the guaranty based on the new rules and will either reimburse the applicant for any overage or request the applicant to increase the amount of the performance guaranty.

Mexico’s energy regulator, the Energy Regulatory Commission or CRE, will have 30 days from the publication of the manual to issue new methodologies to update the costs of the interconnection studies and the applicable financial guarantees that may be required to be posted by applicants.

Key updates

Interconnection requests are now classified into three types: (i) an individual request, which will be common to most general interconnection requests, (ii) requests based on the government’s grid development and expansion program known as the PRODESEN, and (iii) requests related to infrastructure that is already interconnected or connected to the grid, whereby an applicant can request an increase in the installed capacity of a power plant, an increase of the contracted load of a load center or a change of the interconnection or connection point. Applicants may switch between the first two types of requests as long as CENACE approves the change.

In addition, in cases where power plants allocate part of their production to behind-the-meter offtakers and other offtakers that are not connected to the grid, applicants may request interconnection to the distribution and transmission networks for the sale of excess power or to purchase power to compensate for shortfalls in production. Load centers that satisfy part of their load needs through these types of power plants may also request connection to the distribution and transmission networks for the purpose of purchasing electricity.

All interconnection and connection applications will now be handled through CENACE’s online system for interconnection and connection applications known as SIASIC.

The manual maintains the three existing interconnection studies (indicative study, system impact study and facilities study) and applicants may request from CENACE only one technical clarification for each of the three studies. CENACE can request additional works and infrastructure to ensure the grid’s safety.

CENACE has a maximum period of 280 days to resolve applications for interconnection and a maximum period of 170 days to resolve applications for connection of load centers.

After all interconnection studies have been issued, an applicant will have 30 business days to request CENACE to instruct the transmission or distribution provider to execute the corresponding interconnection or connection agreement.