Looming over the dry desert scrub, as high as a 25-story building, the giant turbines of the Energía Sierra Juárez wind farm punctuate the horizon just south of the California border, an otherworldly array of white tubular towers each topped with three, 12-ton blades.
Mexico has some of the finest wind in the world, and the Sierra de Juarez mountain range has some of the best in Mexico—a bit turbulent but strong and relatively steady, even in the daytime. It’s ideal wind power country, but not a single kilowatt of the electricity produced here stays in Mexico. Instead, San Diego’s Sempra Energy, through its Mexican subsidiary, IEnova, ships 100 percent of its electricity back into the United States, enough to power some 65,000 homes.
The 47-turbine wind farm, whose long-range plan calls for up to seven times as many turbines ultimately producing a sizeable 1.2 gigawatts of power, is a first in the growing cross-border energy trade.
“In the last 2½ years, there’s been quite a lot of investment coming into Mexico on the renewable side, solar and wind,” notes Robert Downing, an expert on the Mexican energy market and a partner in the Miami office of the law firm, Greenberg Traurig. “Mexico has tremendous wind resources,” he says. And over the next few years, “we think the growth in wind and solar will be substantial.”