Mexico’s CFE Sees Infrastructure Spending Near $16.6 Billion

Comision Federal de Electricidad, Mexico’s state-owned power company, expects $16.6 billion will be spent on infrastructure including pipelines and power projects in the coming years as the nation opens to outside investment.

The CFE is planning for 14 natural gas pipelines, 14 renewable energy projects and six combined-cycle natural gas generation plants, Chief Executive Officer Enrique Ochoa said in an interview Friday at the World Economic Forum in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The renewable energy projects will be hydropower, geothermal and wind farms, he said.

Mexican lawmakers in 2013 approved legislation that opens the nation’s oil and power markets to foreign investors. Blackstone Group LP and other power producers have applied to ship electricity across the border from Texas to meet Mexico’s needs, while BlackRock Inc. and First Reserve Corp. are buying stakes in gas pipelines owned by state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos.

Ochoa didn’t say which projects the CFE would build itself and for which it would seek outside bidders. To help raise capital, Ochoa said the CFE is discussing the use of master-limited partnerships, a corporate structure that in the U.S. passes through most earnings to investors without paying federal income tax.

“In the past, CFE couldn’t freely use those instruments but now, we’re discussing them” because of the energy reforms, he said.

Ochoa said the company’s expansion in nuclear energy still needs to be debated. The Laguna Verde atomic plant in Veracruz is a good example of clean and safe nuclear energy production, he said. Adding two nuclear units to the Veracruz plant is “a topic that needs further analysis and discussion,” he said.