After the meet and greet with the consulate community, the Secretary’s motorcade made its way to the industrial sector on the outskirts of town. There, on a few acres next to the municipal landfill, the Secretary visited the Benlesa biogas plant.
Benlesa is a strategic alliance between the government of the state of Nuevo Leon through SIMEPRODE (System for Ecological Waste Management & Processing) and the private company SEISA (Sistemas de Energia Internacional S.A. de C.V.). The plant converts methane captured from biomatter in the landfill into clean electricity.
In 2003, Benlesa began operations with a capacity of 7 megawatts and currently produces 12 megawatts of electrical power. By the end of this year, the facility will expand to 16 megawatts, providing Monterrey with enough clean energy to power the local metro rail system and 40% of the public lighting in the metropolitan area. It is already the biggest facility of its kind in the Americas and will be one of the largest in the world once the expansion is complete.
After a meeting at the facility, the Secretary observed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between U.S. and Mexican universities. Highlights of the collaborative agreement include the creation of joint degree programs between the University of Texas and the Monterrey Institute of Technology, one of the premier private universities in northern Mexico, and the development of a joint research program between those schools and the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, Nuevo Leon’s dynamic public university, and the Monterrey City of Knowledge. Under the agreement, those four institutions will share information and design joint research programs to expand renewable energy.
If diplomacy used to be conducted in smoky sitting rooms and parlors, facilities like the Benlesa biogas plant may be the more typical venue for the modern diplomat. The methane burners, giant vats of machine oil, and electric transformers as a backdrop to Secretary Clinton's remarks all contributed to the sense of industry and government cooperating for a better environment and a better future.
It was a fitting end to a jam-packed trip to Mexico.