Living, working, and playing in Mazatlan, Mexico

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The Very Angry Man From CFE

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Our very low electric bills have been very exciting to us. We came from Fort Worth, where in the Summer, our electric bill could be $800USD. And ours was low compared to a lot of our neighbors. So when we got our first electric bill, a scarce $204MXN, we were astonished and did a happy dance. Other people we spoke with thought that was a little low, but we reminded them that we don't have air conditioning. We insisted that fact, combined with the different rates charged to each neighborhood made up for the difference between our bill and theirs. A theory proven false.

The next month, our bill went down, even though the temperature went up. We paid the paltry $174MXN while smiling. We attributed the drop to the fact that the raining season was upon us, and the spectacular storms prompted us to shut down and unplug all of the electronics over night.

A few days after paying the bill, a very angry man from CFE (the Mexican electric company) started pounding on our gate. I mean pounding. This was no polite rattle to let us know he was there. He was pissed and wanted us to know it. Chuck went down to find out what was going on and was confronted with a man who had all the charm of a virus. The man spoke quickly and angrily in Spanish while pointing at the electric meter. Chuck could make out “Its not turning.” He looked where the man was pointing and saw our electric meter was full of water.

Chuck's first response was “What do you want me to do about it?” It's not our meter. It belongs to the electric company. Chuck had no way to get this across, so he called Nacho on the cell phone to let him deal with the problem. Nacho wasn't answering. In desperation he went up the street and sought our neighbor, Monica, who speaks some English.

Monica did the best she could to translate for Chuck. Finally, the man from CFE said he would be back in an hour, and he wanted Nacho to be there. We kept calling Nacho, but still no answer. The man from CFE returned and was not pleased that we were unable to produce Nacho. He said he would be back at 5.

We finally got Nacho on the phone and told him what was going on. Nacho agreed to be at our house at 5 when the man from CFE returned. Nacho showed up 5 minutes early and waited. And waited. And waited. No CFE guy. Nacho finally left. CFE guy showed up at 7. Of course. This time we got Nacho on the phone. It was decided that CFE would replace the meter in the next 1 to 10 days.

They took the whole 10 days to get around to replacing the meter. That didn't bother us. We got free electricity while they dawdled, resulting in our most recent electric bill totaling $14MXN, which I couldn't resist scanning. You can see it here.

The guy who showed up to replace the meter was just as rude at the first guy. Chuck let him in the gate, then asked him to wait a minute while we shut everything down. As soon as Chuck was out of the guy's sight, he flipped all the breakers and brought everything down hard. He changed the meter with great efficiency and brought everything back up equally hard. Then he left

They must have put some really super grease in that new meter, because now it spins like a dervish. Chuck has been keeping a close eye on it. Right now, halfway through the month, we are sitting at 460kWh. We are desperately trying not to go over the magic 1000kWh line.

During the Summer, the government subsidizes your electric bill, paying half. The catch is that you lose the subsidy if you use more than 1000kWh. Now I feel like I'm living with my dad, as Chuck goes around behind me turning off lights and fans that I have left on and closing the microwave door. My penchant for leaving things on is something my dad never broke me of, and I suspect Chuck won't have much luck either. We've replaced our light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescents. Now we just hope. I'll let you know what the next bill is.

Comments (1)
  • wglock  - What happened?
    What happened with the next electric bill. Were you able to stay under the 1000kwh?

  • jennifer  - What happened?
    We did manage to stay below 1000 kWh, although just barely. Our next full bill was 600 pesos or so. The biggest shock was when the subsidy ran out before the heat did and we got a 1200 peso bill. Our last one was around 800 pesos. It looks like our Winter electric bills are going to be higher than our Summer ones!
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