The new government of the state of Chihuahua is being thrifty with its electricity consumption: it is fearful that the power may be cut off any day.
A government spokesman said the state owes 1.5 billion pesos, about US $79 million, to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).
Ramón Galindo Noriega says he hopes the government can reach an agreement with the CFE to leave the lights on given a concerted effort to reduce consumption.
He claimed the previous administration paid no attention to energy use, citing air conditioning as an example. It ran all day and all night, he said, simply due to carelessness.
Galindo said money was also owed for water but could not say how much.
He said the CFE arrears were above and beyond the state’s 46-billion-peso debt, which itself has left Chihuahua with a financial crisis.
Chihuahua is not the only jurisdiction that has failed to pay its electricity bills.
Two municipalities in Oaxaca had their power cut off 10 days ago for neglecting to stay current.
Santa Lucia del Camino, just outside Oaxaca city, and Juchitán de Zaragoza, located in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, owe 3.9 million and 4.7 million pesos, respectively.
Municipal water service was affected because the pumps could not operate, street lights went dark and municipal offices had to be closed. Public libraries and police offices also had their power cut.
The mayors of both municipalities said they had no funds to pay the CFE due to spending cuts by the federal government.
A CFE spokesman said legal action has been taken against both, not for failing to pay their bills but for making illegal connections to the power grid and stealing electricity.
José Ramón Olivo López also said two more municipalities were about to be cut off. San Jacinto Amilpas and Ocotlán de Morelos would be the next to lose their power for their overdue accounts.