June 17, 2020 / 3:43 PM / a month ago

Mexico's president accuses Spain's Iberdrola of 'hidden' media attack

MEXICO CITY, June 17 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ramped up verbal attacks on Spain's Iberdrola on Wednesday, accusing the power generation company of mounting a media campaign against his government as well as unspecified acts of graft.

Lopez Obrador said he had information that showed Iberdrola was organizing opposition to his government, which has given the state more influence over the electricity industry. He did not provide any evidence to back up his claims.

"I have information that they're the ones who are pursuing this campaign, it's just hidden," Lopez Obrador told reporters at a morning news conference, referring to Iberdrola.

Critics have blasted government efforts to prevent dozens of mostly wind and solar power plants operated by private firms including Iberdrola from connecting to the grid owned by state-run electricity company, Comision Federal de Electricidad, or CFE. They say CFE is unfairly targeting renewable energy projects to preserve its fossil-fuel power generation, including plants that burn highly-polluting fuel oil.

"This has to do with Spanish companies that see Mexico as a land to be conquered," Lopez Obrador, alleging that power contracts were won due to "influence peddling." He did not give details of the alleged wrongdoing.

Iberdrola offices in Spain and Mexico did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

In recent months, the Mexican government has sought to prevent the renewable projects from connecting to the grid owned by CFE, accusing them of not paying enough to support baseload power or transmission costs.

The Mexican president on Wednesday widened his criticism to other unnamed Spanish power firms, which for years have had a significant presence in the country's private power generation sector.

Lopez Obrador added that he was open to dialogue with the private firms, noting that reaching an agreement would be the best outcome. (Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Raul Cortes Fernandez; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and David Gregorio)

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