Excessive electric bills hurt businesses in Chiapas and Yucatán

Yucatán's food industry has reported increases of up to 200% in their electric bills

Excessive electric bills hurt businesses in Chiapas and Yucatán
The problem does not only affect the commercial and industrial sector, but even small producers and fishermen - Photo: File photo/REUTERS
English 13/11/2018 19:18 Newsroom Mexico City Yazmín Rodríguez & Óscar Gutiérrez Actualizada 19:20
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Excessive electric bills issued by Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has rattled different sectors in the southeast region of Mexico. Businessmen in Yucatán have complained about a 100% increase in their bills, going as far as to file appeals against the federal company, while in the state of Chiapas, communities from at least 70 municipalities are demanding the cancellation of debts and a preferential tariff treatment in the region.

In Yucatán, hotels, restaurant owners, merchants, and small establishments have filed lawsuits against CFE, accusing the company of unfairly increasing electricity bills by between 100 and 200 percent, which has jeopardized the operation of these businesses and their capacity to sustain their workforce.

Different sectors have pointed out that said irregularities began in January of the present year and have not shown any changes despite numerous complaints, protests, claims, and even some meetings with high officials from both the Energy Regulating Commission (CRE) and Mexico’s Ministry of Energy.

The chairman of Mérida’s Chamber of Commerce, Services, and Tourism (CANACOME), Michel Salum Francis, stated that companies from Yucatán are finding themselves in a very difficult situation, which is why they are working on appeals and other extreme measures to clarify said bills and mitigate economic losses.

“The problem does not only affect the commercial and industrial sector, but even small producers and fishermen,” he claimed. As an example, he mentioned that several businessmen from Progreso’s fishing sector have stated that they would be forced to cut wages for octopus hunters during this season, since their financial resources have suffered considerable losses.

“Many companies are having serious problems and have even been forced to apply for credit in order to pay for their electric bills, which is a cause for alarm,” claimed the businessman.

He explained that working sessions had been put in place between several of Mexico’s business chambers such as CONCANACO, the Corporate Coordinating Council (CCE), and CANACINTRA. Businessmen also met with officials from the Ministry of Finance, but their request for fair bills has not been heard.

Last Tuesday, the Corporate Coordinating Council of Yucatán announced that they would call for a major power outage in businesses and homes to protest against the state’s excessive electric bills.

The chairwoman of the National Chamber of Restaurants and Seasoned Food Industry (CANIRAC), Alejandra Pacheco Montero, stated that they would continue to put pressure on CFE, since the food industry has reported increases of up to 200% in their electric bills, which has considerably affected their income.

The resistance of indigenous communities

In Chiapas, communities from 70 municipalities in different regions that have resisted the CFE for 23 years are demanding for the cancellation of their debts and the approval of preferential and compensatory bills. According to the representative of the Indigenous Peoples in Resistance organization (MOFAR), thousands of productive acres have been occupied for the construction of CFE’s hydroelectric plants, which encompassed an irreversible damage to biodiversity and increased poverty in the state.

The activist claimed that more than 200 thousand users from different communities in Chiapas have demanded a dignified treatment and fair electric bills, the cost of which has more than duplicated this year.

According to the leader, one of the causes for this unfair increase in the indigenous villages was the enactment of the energy reform in 2014, which did not take into account the extreme poverty conditions and generalized underdevelopment of these communities.

He announced that MOFAR and other organizations would talk with Andrés Manuel López Obrador once he assumed the presidency to negotiate the cancellation of their debt and the implementation of preferential bills for the indigenous villages of Chiapas, just as he proposed to do in Tabasco a few weeks ago.

All seven hydroelectric plants spread across the state of Chiapas account for 44% of the country’s hydroelectric power and a 12% of the total electric power supply.


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