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Electric Company Threatens Cutoffs for Aca Deadbeats

By: Patrick Ellis | Real Acapulco News - 23 June, 2011

(Acapulco, NA 23 June) According to the local director of the Federal Energy Commission (CFE), the state-owned and operated electric utility, over 60,000 users in Acapulco are delinquent in the payment of their electricity bills. Many are businesses serving tourism along the Costera Alemán. Alberto Gonzáles Bornios, superintendent of the Acapulco Region for the CFE, says that in all the debts amount to over $500 million pesos.

He added that Acapulco also occupies first place in the nation for the number of persons who are stealing energy. Such people just connect wires to the grid without the formality of a meter or an account with the utility. They are referred to as “colgadores” (hangers), and in some of the poor, outlying neighborhoods, the percentage of illegal users is as high as 90% of all homes. According to Gonzáles Bornios, the theft of energy in Acapulco costs the utility more than $1 billion pesos (around US$ 90 million) annually, which translates into 800 million kilowatt hours per year.

Some of the deadbeat customers have bills going back as far as 10 years, according to the CFE representative. “If we plan to cut off service to everyone who owes us money, it is over 60,000 customers, including hotels, restaurants and apartment buildings.” Research by Novedades Acapulco revealed that a substantial portion of the debt comes from municipal governments, mainly south and east of Acapulco, who use electricity for public illumination. Many of the accounts are disputed, as the electric rates for Guerrero are among the highest in the country. When asked, the CFE representative, discounted this as the main problem. All agree that if the La Parota dam project were built, electric rates in Acapulco would drop to national levels or even below.

To combat theft of energy, the CFE is installing robust security around the low tension wires of the grid, with 220,000 new digital meters in the higher parts of the infrastructure. This “intelligent network” will detect theft and automatically cut service selectively, by remote control. “Within two years,” said the CFE representative, “it will be practically impossible to rob energy.”

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