CFE – A “World Class” Mess  (By Stewart Mandy)

MÉRIDA, YUCATÁN – Mexico’s government owned electricity company, Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) bills itself as “Una empresa de clase mundial” (A World Class company) – a slogan which is plastered absolutely everywhere. It is however a slogan which deceives no one, except perhaps the person who invented it. And assuming he lives in Mexico, it’s likely that even he realizes it’s no more than a fantasy.


As anyone who lives in Mexico knows, the reality is very different – from frequent power outages, to unstable supply, to mysterious reductions in voltage. In Mérida, as in the rest of the country, we suffer from the whims of CFE and their lack of interest to fix a problem fast when one occurs. A recent example was the night of Saturday 1st August into Sunday 2nd August, in the area around Chem Bech market on the east side of centro. In the early hours of the morning, a power outage occurred, followed by resumption of power, but at a lower voltage, causing problems for people running air conditioners and fans during the night. At least one further outage occurred later in the night, and by the morning, the supply was still unstable, with voltage alternately surging to higher than normal levels, and then dropping well below normal.


This surging and dropping continued constantly through the morning. By late afternoon, when this reporter returned home, the situation had still not been resolved, and power was still alternately surging and dropping. During the course of the day, we telephoned CFE three times, initially to report the problem and later to inquire as to the status. Many of our neighbors of course did the same. Our first call was around 10am, when the operator advised that they had been working on the issue since 9am, and it would be resolved within 4 hours. Interestingly, the third time we called, late in the afternoon, the operator told us they were dealing with “more important problems”! The problem was finally resolved late in the afternoon, some 12 hours after it began.


Despite the fact that I had unplugged all appliances as soon as the surges started, upon reconnecting them in the evening, it became evident that both a small fridge and a microwave had been “zapped” by the power surges, and were no longer functioning. CFE, of course, disclaims responsibility for damage to household appliances, claiming that damage to them is due to poor wiring and lack of voltage regulation within the home; as if any voltage regulator would be able to stand up to the huge voltage surges and drops that CFE supplies.


Not for the first time since I have lived in Mérida, I am now faced with the need to replace appliances ruined by CFE’s lack of ability to provide a stable electricity supply.


If ever proof was needed that a monopoly in any given service industry is a bad thing, CFE provides it. It’s well past time that Mexico opens up service industries to competition in the interests of improved service to the consumer.

I contacted CFE and invited them to comment for this article. By press time however, a response had not been received.

The Yucatan Times hereby invites CFE to submit a response to this article, and to comment on the points raised.

NOTE.- The opinions expressed on this article are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The Yucatan Times Online Newspaper Editorial Team or any of its employees.

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Stewart Mandy

Born in Europe, raised in the Middle East, and a long-time resident in the Americas, including the last 3 years in Merida, Stewart has worked worldwide in the travel, tourism and transportation industries for well over 20 years.

His local contacts and global knowledge provide him with unmatched access to the stories ‘behind the stories’ and he likes to take you to the places that others don’t or won’t go. From the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego, from Moscow to Melbourne, from Bergen to Buenos Aires, Stewart has been there. Chances are, wherever you are heading, he knows the score.