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A man pays an electricity bill at a CFE machine. A man pays an electricity bill at a CFE machine.

Electricity commission’s customer arrears soared 28% to 71 billion pesos

Municipal, state and federal authorities are among the biggest debtors

Electricity customers owed the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) a record high of almost 71 billion pesos (US $3.6 billion)  at the end of 2021, an increase of almost 28% in the space of two years.

Bad debts – bills still not paid 30 days after the payment cutoff date – totaled 70.97 billion pesos at the end of last year.

The figure is included in the CFE’s 2021 report, which was submitted to Congress earlier this month. It is almost 15.4 billion pesos, or 27.7%, higher than the bad debt total at the end of 2019.

Municipal, state and federal authorities are among the biggest debtors, according to the CFE report.

protest against CFE over cutoffs to well in Mexico state
Not even cutting off municipal wells in 2020, which provoked protests, persuaded Ecatepec, México state, to pay off its CFE debt.

According to the most recent data, the government of Ecatepec, México state, owes over 1.11 billion pesos to the utility, more than any other municipality. The next biggest municipal debtors are Acapulco, Guerrero; Ixtapaluca, México state; Texcoco, México state; and Chicoloapan, México state.

Household and commercial customers also owe large amounts of money to the state-owned utility.

The CFE noted that many customers in Tabasco, México state, Chiapas and Mexico City refuse to pay their bills as they continue to engage in civil resistance against the company.

A scheme in Tabasco that aimed to get electricity customers to start paying their bills by canceling their longstanding debt fell well short of its goal, according to data published late last year, with only one-third of the targeted customers signing up for the debt forgiveness program.

The increase in the value of unpaid bills has occurred despite the CFE seeking to encourage payment via a range of schemes.

The pace with which the utility’s bad debt has grown during the current government is much faster than that seen when former president Enrique Peña Nieto was in office between 2012 and 2018. During his entire six-year term, the company’s bad debt grew by only 7.7%, or just over 3.4 billion pesos.

With reports from El Universal 

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