CFE Electric Bill and Rates

In Mexico your electric bill comes from la Comisión which is how locals refer to La Comisión Federal de Electricidad or CFE. The rate structure is complex. This article tries to explain how your electric bill can change dramatically based on consumption level and why.

Electricity in Mexico is either very cheap or very expensive depending on how much you consume. Pricing is done on a complex sliding scale that favours small users with low rates and substantial government subsidies. It penalizes heavy users with very high rates.

For a Mexican family of three living a modern life style i.e. automatic washer, computers, television, fridge and water pressure system but neither pool nor air conditioning a bill of 800 pesos would be normal. A foreign family of two living year round in our area will likely have a pool or at least some air conditioning. Add either one of those items even with minimum use and the bill quadruples. Add them both and you have a bill about 8 times what our modern Mexican family pays. In US Dollars that would be about $65, $260 and $520 respectively. Put it on a bar graph and the difference looks even more dramatic:
graph of consumption

The reason is that the Mexican family has managed to stay well below the dreaded DAC rate. DAC stands for “De Alto Consumo” which translates to “of high consumption”. The rate system has a number of elements designed to make power affordable to even poor families. There are three price levels: Basico, Intermedio and DAC.
rate graph

There is a government subsidy, a lower rate on the first so many kWhs and a seasonal bias i.e. lower rates in the summer. The Mexican family has benefited from the low rates for the first 300 KWh and the government subsidy. They are paying top rate for their last 232 kWh and that makes up the main cost of their consumption.
CFE bill mexican family of 3

The government subsidy of 864 pesos pays about half of what their bill would have been.

The foreign family has not fared so well. They have entered into the DAC rate structure. They have lost their government subsidy, seasonal saving and the lower rates on initial consumption. They also have a 72 peso fixed charge added.
CFE bill for foreign family of two

Looking at their historical billing you can see they used their air conditioning during the August and October billing periods. Along with the bill came this comment:

Other than AC our biggest expense would be running the pool pump for 3 hours a day… Other than that our use is minimal, and we don’t have a pressurized water system. In Feb 2009 I think we had guests who ran the AC all the time.

So how do you avoid the DAC rating. To understand that we need to look at how it came to be in the first place. You may want to read about CFE rate calculation details but basically it says there are a number of zones which have consumption limits. The Zone determines the rate structure. For the Jaltemba Bay area the zone is 1B. In that zone if you consume more than an average of 400 kWh per month for any 12 month period you will automatically be upgraded to the DAC rates. To get out of the DAC rate structure you have to fall below the 400 kWh per month for a 12 month period and your bill is supposed to get readjusted back to the more economical rate structure. If it isn’t then you should go and talk to your CFE office. That is 400 kWh per month NOT per billing period.

There are a plethora of details on the CFE website some of which are summarized by the following chart. The chart is explained more fully here: CFE rate calculation details . The most important thing to know is that if you do not live in the 1B zone the DAC limits are different as shown in the first two columns. There are also some exceptions for Baja California.

CFE rate chart

At the bottom end of the rate structure power really is very affordable. This bill shows a minimum charge of 41 pesos or about $3.50. The minimum rate of .707 pesos per kilo watt hour (kWh) will apply to the first 150 kWh which would probably cost about $5. Here is a bill that reflects that:
minimum charge

Other Resources:

There is an active discussion on the forum with some good tips and clarifications. Click here to join the discussion.

The details shown in the graphs and charts were distilled from the CFE website which is now in Spanish only.

Spanish Lesson

Visit the CFE website and see if you can find some of the data presented above.

conocer – to know as in knowing someone
saber – to know as in knowing something you do not say “Yo se Juan” you say ” Yo conoco Juan”
tu casa – your home
prensa – press
sala de prensa – press room – news releases
negocio – business


user image Safe Power in Mexico – some more tips » Jaltemba Jalapeño

[…] This article may help you protect your electronics and avoid some problems in Mexico. You may also be interested in how your electric bill is calculated: CFE Electric Bill and Rates. […]

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