Here’s Another Shot At The Electric Utility

We all need to play defense with CFE, and it just got easier
BY: REDDY KILOWAT

We all know we live in the land of solar generated electricity, after all, we’re in the land of the sun. We know we should get more of our household energy from solar, and less from filthy icky coal. But show of hands, who knows where our electricity in Southern Baja comes from? Thought so. No, you in the back row who shouted that it comes from the switch on the wall, that answer won’t cut it.. We’re thinking deep here, and we’re going to learn about our prospects for beating the hated electric utility, CFE, which has just changed the rules on us again. But this rule change is in a good way.

Baja is almost an island, cutting us off from the grid the rest of Mexico is on. They’ve been talking about submerging an extension cord under the Sea of Cortez, but that takes a big investment, and it seems CFE would rather just wring more money out of us than tie into the country’s electrical grid.

 We get almost all our energy from a diesel generator in La Paz. Yup, just like that Honda generator out in your garage. Well, this one is way bigger.. The diesel comes over from the mainland in big tanker ships that lay off the coast just a little north of La Paz. They aren’t just screwing around out there, they are hooked up to a pipe that’s sucking their load of oil out of the ship and into the tank farm you can see from the road to Pichilingue. There are nearly a dozen tanks full of oil that will be used to run those generators.

The people in La Paz are not too happy with this arrangement, as the generator spews out a lot of filth, and they feel that given the population of Los Cabos compared to the population of La Paz, we who are far from the apparatus get more of the benefit of the smoking, belching diesel plant.

Now that you know we are on generator, you can imagine how the cost of our electricity is tied so closely with the price of oil. (Hint: Oil is going up fast here in Mexico, but the reasons for that are a whole other story).

So, why don’t we have more solar installations? They’re coming. Half a dozen solar “farms”, which are vast arrays of solar panels, are coming soon. Two already have their permits.

What, you think you’re going to run an extension cord to the solar farms? No. These solar farms will not be selling to you and me. They will need to sell to your old nemesis, good old CFE. CFE will take this juice and then pump it out to your house, just as soon as they slap their profit on it. We are all still the sucker at the end of the electric cord.

What can we do?

Well, we can put solar panels on our house, and defy CFE. If you buy a solar system that jumps through CFE’s narrow parameters, you can generate so much solar power during the day that there will be enough excess power that you can draw from CFE when the sun goes down. Turning the meter back like that is the holy grail of home solar systems.

CFE just blinked. They are now allowing bidirectional digital meters. Bi directional means when you don’t need anymore sunshine running through your house, the electricity you are generating immediately goes to CFE and you are credited.

The reason you want a digital meter is so CFE can’t bend you over on your consumption. Yes, they do that all the time. Suddenly, with no change in your habits, your electric bill can go up 500% or even more. You can call them, ask them to come out and check that meter one more time, but if the meter is incorrect, you’re screwed. You pay it or you’re cut off.

If you have a smart solar system that allows you to follow your consumption any time you log on to your account, you have a paper trail of your consumption. You can use this as proof that their meter is whacked out and they will back down. Also if you get a smart solar system you can track your consumption from anywhere in the world, right on your phone. You can watch your (digital) meter go round and round and know if you’ve got an electricity leak somewhere. And, the right solar company will get you hooked up quickly with CFE. They currently have a backlog of hook-ups so long that some amateurs give up. A good solar design/installation company knows how to go to the head of the line.

So what’s a good solar company? There might be lots of them but we only hear about Innovation Solar in Cabo San Lucas. If cutting the cord to CFE appeals to you, give Francisco Vargas a shout. He’s at 624 105 9478. www.innovationsolar.mx.