Welcome to Mexico – December 2010

Welcome to Mexico

By Victoria Schmidt

CFE and Me


Like most residents of Mexico, I don’t worry that much about crime, I live in fear of only one thing: the CFE bill. Every-other month, I held my breath hoping that we came in under the limit so that we didn’t end up in the dreaded DAC tariff level. Recently, we crossed the threshold for some inexplicable reason, and our bill tripled.

Trying to find the culprit isn’t easy. We went to our rental company and asked to have our meter checked. They asked about our electricity guzzling appliances. We have no explanation…other than the old refrigerator. During the hot months, we run fans. No heaters in the cooler months. They said we should “wait.”

Another thing I don’t understand is the rationale about the tariff. If there is a threshold of 500-kilowatts, then the usage exceeds the 500-kilowatt limit, everything over that wattage should be charged at the tariff rate. But nope, go over that limit, and the entire bill is charged at the higher tariff rate…not just any kilowatts over 500.

The topic of the electricity cost inevitably comes up wherever ex-pats gather. Everyone has cost-saving ideas. Everyone has suggestions and advice on how to save. Myself, I run around the house turning off lights, receivers, and anything electrical I can find…and our bill is still high.

There was one gentleman on a web board who knows the watts or volts used by each and every appliance he owns. Me? I don’t know the difference between watts or volts–except CFE charges by the watt. The goal is to stay under the 500-kilowatt limit for the billing cycle. We have yet to do that.

The other mystery is my bill. Where is it? Why do I never get it? It never shows up at our home. My rental agency just goes and gets a copy of the bill. They know what my bill is before I do. If CFE can read the meter, why can’t they deliver a bill?

If I did get a bill, I would take it to the CFE headquarters and talk to a representative, but I have heard horror stories from those that try. I’ve been told that they will come out and check the meter, but if they find no problem with the meter, then CFE charges for the trip. Of course, then there is that little matter of waiting for them to show up when they say they will be there “mañana.”

People have advised me to find a “good electrician” whom I can trust, and have him go through the house and make sure it is properly wired and make sure that I don’t have hungry appliances. Right. A good electrician I can trust. That was hard to find in the USA where I could call and ask all kinds of questions before I hired someone. Here? Well, I have to hope that someone I know and trust has a great reference for me.

Keep in mind; I know that there is a problem with my electricity. Why? Because the lamp in our living room is constantly changing its brightness…all by itself. It goes from bright to dull to bright again. So, yes, I need to find that electrician. But what if the house needs rewiring? Who will pay for that? My landlord? The rental company? Yah, I hear the laughter too.

And once I find the problem, and correct the problem. I must wait an entire year, or six billing cycles in order for CFE to take me off the dreaded DAC rate.

See why I think CFE is totally scary?

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

Ojo Del Lago
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