Dominica: Valuing the Winds of Change
A stretch of agaves, palm trees, the typical mezquites trees of the area and… 100 wind turbines: it’s not easy to find a panorama like this in the rest of the world. We are in Mexico, near Charcas, in the State of San Luis Potosí.
The turbines are part of Enel Green Power’s Dominica I (50) and Dominica II (50) wind farms. The view they offer to those who come to this corner of Mexico makes for an impressive photo to share on social media, but also provides a unique understanding of the new economic reality of the area.
In Charcas, wealth has always been associated with minerals. The area’s economic activities have been based on the mining industry since 1563, the year the city was founded. The state of the mines has always had an effect on the area’s population growth and decline.
"Zinc, silver and copper are still found in the mines, located just 15 minutes from the city."
Some of the area’s most vivid stories revolve around minerals, even involving space. A meteorite from 65 million years ago was displayed in one of the town’s main churches, San Francisco, from its discovery up to 1886, when it was brought to the Museum of Natural History in Paris, where it is located today.
Recently, new sources of wealth and creation of value have been “discovered” by the local communities. Construction of Dominica started in 2014. Even before its commissioning, EGP had started an active dialogue, listening to the community in order to identify opportunities to benefit the entire energy value chain.
A Community Nursery, a new form of social economy
In order to ensure that the environment was respected during the construction of Dominica, we saved 36,471 specimens of wildlife from 19 species, which we relocated to their original natural context with environmental conditions to foster their conservation.
We also purchased new plants to ensure adequate afforestation levels, which we established together with the government.
"Insieme alla ONG locale, Fundación Produce, e un gruppo di donne che abitano nell’area, abbiamo lavorato per salvare un vivaio comunitario anticamente attivo nella zona."
In this space, besides quarantining the species saved prior to relocation, we offered members of the production group training in how to plant cacti, to replenish the area and for ornamental purposes, alongside those they customarily planted.
"The project has already allowed us to reproduce more than 10,000 endemic species. The community has developed a new local economy and EGP had the plants necessary for afforestation available."
Communities Building Their Own Destiny
The project lasts five years and will continue until 2019. 48 women from the surrounding communities have been trained and 20 continue to work in the nursery, making a vulnerable population able to manage entrepreneurial activities and supporting gender equality in the region.
"The community nursery was one of the deciding factors that helped Dominica win the Inter-American Development Bank’s Infrastructure 360º Award in Climate and Environment."
The award was given to recognise the initiatives enacted at the wind farm as a whole: actions to preserve the natural environment; social programmes to provide new skills to local communities through training on cultivation techniques; measures of reforestation and feeding of livestock in periods of drought.
The community nursery is now on the list of structures that can manage wildlife that is out of its natural environment, with the authorisation of Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources to reproduce and commercialise the species. This permit will allow the community to be 100% responsible for the nursery, making it able to decide its own destiny for the future.