Iberdrola Background in Mexico: a symbol of industrial Monterrey

Planta Eléctrica del Grupo Industria (PEGI), now known as Planta de Cogeneración de Monterrey (Monterrey Cogeneration Plant), can be regarded as Iberdrola’s forbearer in Mexico and a symbol of the industrial city of Monterrey, with a long history in which several Mexican presidents, as well as U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, played a part.

PEGI came into being during the Second World War at a time of industrial growth for the city of Monterrey. The city’s energy needs could not be met by the 16 MW then being supplied by Compañía de Tranvías, Luz y Fuerza Motriz de Monterrey, a monopoly owned by Canadian group Montreal Engineering.

Following a supply failure in 1943 that caused the Canadian company to restrict its power provision to just two hours of service, a group of entrepreneurs decided to create Planta Eléctrica del Grupo Industrial, which would have an initial production capacity of 17 MW, which back then would account for 1.9% of the total nationwide.

However, the project began at the height of the Second World War, which put limitations on the power supply as all turbines manufactured in the United States were reserved for use on warships.
A solution was only found thanks to the intervention of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who after meeting with Mexican President Manuel Ávila Camacho and a group of industry stakeholders authorized the export of all units required by the plant through the United States War Production Board.

PEGI had two electrically connected power plants with a combined capacity of 151 MW, thus enabling 61 metric tons of steam to be produced per hour. This was supplied to around 20 companies neighboring the plant, including Cartón Titán, Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, and Grafo Regia.
“One of the turbines dating back to 1945, is still in operation,” said Iberdrola Mexico generation director Marco Esquivel, who also noted that the plant was the only one to remain in private hands following President Adolfo López Mateos’ nationalization of the power industry in 1960.

Iberdrola manager for the Monterrey region, Arnoldo Rico, added that this same turbine, which managed to avoid its foretold destiny aboard a U.S. warship after being installed in Monterrey, was surely the oldest working turbine in Mexico.

In 1973, the plant took to burning fuel oil due to restrictions placed on the supply of natural gas. Two years later, it would build a 125-meter-high chimney for emissions that still stands as an icon of Monterrey’s industrial skyline.

The plant also enjoys the distinction of having the largest private distribution network in the country, currently measuring 43.5 miles (70 km) long, by which it carries power to a number of companies in the region.

In 2003, Iberdrola Energía Monterrey started to supply power for the plant and replaced some of the facilities with new, state-of-the-art installations, while also conserving some elements from the previous plant.

Monterrey will serve as a key energy generation center for Iberdrola in Mexico on account of its 42 MW capacity Monterrey Cogeneration Plant; its 1,000 MW capacity Dulces Nombres plant, which is due to see its capacity increase with an additional 300 MW entering into commercial operations next year following construction of the Fifth Unit (Quinta Unidad); and the project recently approved for the new 850 MW capacity Noreste plant, which will be commercially commissioned in 2018.