Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Cost of Electricity

You may not have noticed but I posted a new poll in the upper right hand corner. I am curious as to what most people consume in terms of kwhs.

Here in Mexico for the most part, our electric bill is bi-monthly. Ask any Mexican what is the most expensive bill or most difficult bill they have to pay and they will all answer, the electric bill. It's a funny system. There is a pricing scheme based on the amount you consume every two months. 0-250 kwh is .62 pesos, the next 150 is .92 pesos and from 401 to 799 is 2.44. After that the screws are tightened and we pay 3.25 pesos per kwh. Once you hit the 800 mark, you remain with the 3.25 for six months no matter how low your consumption is. And, in that bill there is no increment, you pay 3.25 for all of the first 800 and thereafter.

There are three neighborhoods in the metro area that have monthly billing and are allowed the 800 kwhs per month at the incremental rates listed above. This was supposed to be a test period with these neighborhoods but it's now been over 15 years.

For the summer months, the rates listed above are subsidized. They don't get it. We don't need lower rates, we need monthly billing and eliminate the kwh limitations. Pay for what you use but don't screw me either.

So how do most Mexicans deal with this? 50% of the population steal either all their electricity or part of it. That means that they may have a contract, pay their bill but the power is only tracking the 110 use and the 220 for the air conditioners is stolen. Swing that cable up there and you're connected. Two people have been electrocuted this summer already connecting illegally to the grid.

Here at home I read the meter daily. We can only use 13 kwhs per day. Once we reach that we shut almost everything down. During the day I keep the house closed up, opening and closing based on movement of the sun. By 5 p.m. it becomes unbearable and we turn on the air conditioner but only in the bedroom. We set the thermostat at 26C and enjoy the cool air until 9 p.m. shutting it off. We open the windows at 10p.m. and go to bed with a fan. It sucks. I hate summer in Monterrey. Last summer was supposed to be the last, well, that didn't happen. So this one is it. No more.

You can see how screwed up the system is. How do you wean 50% of the population off of their free electricity? Some people believe it is their right and that the government owes it to them. Others think they are screwing the government and getting their just desserts. What they don't realize is that they are hurting themselves. Stealing electricity damages appliances, affects the overall stability of the grid, and causes brown outs during hot summer months when there are heavy overloads. Oh, and did I mention that it is illegal!

The electric company employees who were hired more than five years ago receive free electricity without limit. Imagine all the small businesses they have with refrigeration, etc. not to mention old antiquated air conditioners, regular light bulbs eating up the juice. Newer employees receive the first 385 kwh free and pay a very reduced fee after that.

You are your worst enemy.


  1. The costs per kwh are different in different zones of the country but the scales work the same. I think we are allowed 1700 kwh in a 2 month period before we lose all subsidies and pay the DAC rate on everything. It's expensive. You could have doubled the highest category on that poll and I would have been in it, and that is without AC.

  2. I took the poll and guessed.We just paid our July bill and it said that we used 489 kilowatts for the June/July 2010 period last year we used 526. Anyway, I divided it in half.

  3. rocmoc n AZ/BajaJuly 15, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    Here in the AZ we used will into your top tier and that is with a swamp cooler for June. Now that monsoon season has started we are running the AC so it will be higher. We do have extras with our own water well, pool pump & high electrical usage tools (arc welder & etc.). The problem with Mexico electric is the design of the power plants. They are diesel powered where as coal in USA. Mexico has very small coal reserves, some near you only, and oil can be sold more easily on the world market. Mexico should be a candidate for Solar as the $/watt of solar are closer in cost to the diesel $/watt. Good luck, go solar!

  4. Just one of the great things about living in Mexico!

  5. In Victoria BC, Canada the rate per kwh of electricity is set at 8.7 cents. On that you must add the harmonized sales tax which is 12 per cent. Electricity is very cheap in Canada compared to the US and Mexico.

  6. one of the advantages of living in the lake chapala area of mexico is that we generally don't have/need air conditioners or heaters. for a couple of months a year, you might need a fan at night to sleep. other than that, the weather is pretty good and you can always pile more blankets on in the winter.

    that being said.....gringos here still run way up into DAC range (usually because of pools and pumps and leaving all their electronic toys plugged in all the time).

    since i'm poor (even by IMN standards!), the only things i leave plugged in all the time are one large fridge and one little fridge. and, i have to admit, my computer is probably plugged in 15 hours a day. otherwise, i only plug something in when i'm going to use it (i.e. microwave, toaster oven, TV). for the 18 months i've been in this rental house on the south shore of lake chapala, my CFE bill has averaged $200MX for a two-month $100MX for a month....any month!

    yes, i brag!

    barb on the southshore of lake chapala

  7. The problem with that is not everyone thinks just adding a blanket is sufficient. I've been at Lake Chapala in the winter and I had the furnace on in the RV all the time, it was bloody cold! To me, it would be necessary to leave for the coast for at least 3 months every winter. Not having a heater in a house there? No way could I stand it. I've always thought the weather there is way overrated.

  8. rocmoc n AZ/BajaJuly 16, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    I agree with Jonna, it gets cold in the Guadalajara area. We have always arrived in late Feb / early March but last year in Dec. We stayed around with our friends for the Holidays but moved on after-wards. Just too cold. We moved on down to the coast to Rancho B to enjoy the heat & warm ocean.

  9. jonna and rocmoc, you're both absolutely right -- sometimes an extra blanket isn't enough. but having lived in the everglades for three years and living another three years in death valley, i'm willing to suffer the cold for a month in the winter.

    and being a fat and (apparently) hot mama, i don't think i feel the cold as much as a lot of people. i'm kind of the opposite of you, jonna, in that i can't deal with the heat and humidity anymore and i really don't like sleeping with a heater on (was reading your blogpost about the "to a/c or not to a/c" question). but i will admit that occasionally, during our short cold periods here, i go drive around just so i can turn on the heater in the pickup!


  10. LOL! I have a friend here who went out to the car, turned on the heater until it got warm and then took a nap in it last winter during one of our nortes.

    I'm not skinny by any means but it seems that the older I get the colder I get. Perhaps it is just that I've adjusted, before living here in Merida we spent summers in the desert and winters on a MX beach.

    Truthfully, my second choice for where to live when we came off the road was Guadalajara. I knew though that I would have to go down to the beach for the winter. It's an exciting and beautiful city, and for me cities are where it is at. The food in Jalisco is better and I like the music, but there is a charm here in Mérida that is intoxicating. I look forward to visiting GDL again.

  11. San Antonio, Texas electricity rates:

  12. i just looked at my last CFE bill (readings from mar 18 to may 10, 2010) to see when the DAC rate kicks in.

    here around lake chapala, it's like this:

    basic rate of .693 per KWH lasts only through the first 150 KWHs. then the intermediate rate of .828 starts up. don't know how many KWHs that lasts since i don't go into the next (DAC) rate. but with such a low threshold to go beyond the basic rate, i can see how it could get very expensive very fast.

    my use is only about 216 KWHs over a two-month period. when my landlord only came down here to this casita on weekends and had only the small fridge plugged in, he was using 104 KWHs for a two-month period. but for anyone living in a house full-time, it looks like staying in the basic rate pretty much can't be done.

    jonna, if you and mimi ever make it back to this neck of the woods, let me know and i'll show you around the southshore, which is waaaay different than the northsnore! (typo....and it stays!)