San Juanico Village, Baja Mexico

Village Electrification, Diesel Retrofit
San Juanico is an isolated fishing and tourism community of ~ 100 homes located on the west coast of Mexico's Baja peninsula. San Juanico is a favorite surfing destination (also known as Scorpion Point) because it has the longest "pipeline" (a near linear wave break) in North America. When strong waves are forecast for San Juanico surfers from Southern California descend on the town.

The nearest power grid is ~ 30 km away and the costs of extending the grid are prohibitive. San Juanico was powered by a 200 kW diesel generator which had been supplied free-of-charge by the state government.

Since the community had to supply the fuel and upkeep, however, they could only afford to run the diesel 3-5 hours per evening when the load was highest. The school had no electricity for classes during the day and local business had to supply their own power for refrigeration. A one point there were over 40 small gas and diesel generators in San Juanico.

In 1996, a U.S. utility company, Arizona Public Service (APS), undertook a project in cooperation with the Mexican national power company, CFE, to electrify several Mexican communities using wind and solar power. Core funding for the project came from an innovative emission trade between APS and Niagara Mohawk Power Co.

After surveying more than a dozen villages in Baja Califoria Sur and Sonora states, APS and CFE settled on a project to retrofit a hybrid wind / solar system to San Juanico. As the project developed additional funds were provided by US-DOE, US-AID, and the State government. Equally important, the local community formed an electrification committee (patronato) and agreed to pay a high rate for electricity in order to make the project sustainable.

The renewable energy system was installed in early 1999 and officially inaugerated by the Governor in May, 1999. The system consists of 10 Bergey 7.5 kW turbines on 37 m (120 ft.) guyed-lattice towers, a 17 kW PV array, a 420 kWh 240 VDC battery bank, a 90 kW inverter, and new, more efficient, 120 kW diesel generator.

The photo above shows the equipment building, the PV array, and two of the wind turbines. APS did an outstanding job on this project and it has been recognized as one of the few officially-sanctioned USIJI joint implementation international climate change projects. The BCS state government is now developing plans to electrify dozens of coastal villages over the next few years.