Puerto Vallarta Electricity Service
Visitors to Puerto Vallarta
from the United States or Canada don’t need to worry
about bringing special power adapters in your luggage…everything
here runs on the same current as you are used to (110 volts),
and the plugs are the same.
NOTE HOWEVER that older buildings
may not have 3-prong (grounded) outlets…if your laptop/hairdryer/whatever
has a 3-prong plug, make sure to bring an adapter for this
The electrical system in Puerto Vallarta is fairly reliable,
especially compared with years gone by. The commercial and
hotel zones have a reliability factor close to what you’d
expect up north. Some of the older residential areas will
get a few occasional ‘flickers’ (not surges) that
will set your alarm clock back to flashing “12:00”
during the rainy season, and these areas are likely to experience
a full outage once or twice a year during the rains as well,
but CFE (the federal electricity company) is very good about
getting power restored within an hour or so. Residents in
these areas know to keep a few candles handy in a place they
can easily find in the dark, or simply resign themselves to
living ‘off the grid’ for a short time. CFE's publicized goal is for no power outage to last more than 4 hours, and except for severe-storm outages over a wide area, they are proud to normally meet this goal.
you decide to live in Puerto Vallarta long term, you’ll
need to get a contract for your electricity. Go to the CFE
office on Columbia Street between Uraguay and Panama Streets,
stand in line forever (bring a book!), and bring your passport
and proof of your address (this can be a letter from your
landlord, deed or title papers if you own the property, or
a recent PAID phone bill from the address). You’ll need
to pay a contract fee (a few hundred pesos), and within a
few days (if you’re lucky) you’ll get hooked up
to the juice. If you already have power (on a previous resident’s
contract), they’ll just come out and change the meter
or read the current one to start billing on your account.
are issued every TWO months, and are usually due within 15
days. If you don’t pay, they waste NO time in cutting
you off, so don’t be late! You can pay in person at
the same office, or use the auto-tellers there or on Madero
Street just east of Jacarandas Street in Viejo Vallarta…they
take cash. Easiest is to pay at the checkout of most supermarkets
or at any SIX or OXXO store (there are dozens of them all over PuertoVallarta, see “Beer” for more details)…this
costs you an extra 5 pesos (roughly 50 cents), but it’s
worth it to avoid lines. You can ONLY pay at non-CFE locations
(like SIX or OXXO stores) through the next-to-last-day before the
actual due date, so again, don’t wait.
If you don’t get your power bill, too bad, it’s
up to you to know when it’s due. If it’s getting
close to the normal due-date and you haven’t received
your bill, take a previous bill to one of the CFE machines
(or the office), wave it in front of the little bar-code scanner,
and the machine will tell you the amount due.
Note that electricity is sold in three different increments, in order to make electricity affordable for even the lowest on the economic scale. The first 250 kwh (killowatt-hours) in your two-month billing period is called the 'basic" rate will cost you around 50 or 60 centavos each...a bargain by U.S. or Canadian standards. The next 150 kwh is termed "intermediate", and will range between 80 and 90 centavos per kwh...perhaps just a bit cheaper than up north. But everything over that first 400 kwh is considered "excessive" and will be charged at a rate of around 2-1/2 pesos per kwh....even at current exchange rates, that's probably about DOUBLE what you expect to pay in the U.S. or Canada.
If your bill seems unreasonably high, turn off
EVERYTHING in your house (or pull the circuit breaker or fuses),
and check to see if your meter is still running. If so, somebody
is stealing your power by running their wires to your lines.
You might find out who it is by standing outside and watching
while somebody inside pulls the circuit breaker…if the
lights in somebody else’s house also go out at the same
moment, there’s your culprit. CFE takes this seriously.
Let them know, and they’ll drag the criminal off to
a secret location near their substation and apply liberal
amounts of ‘juice’ to their ears as punishment.
No, just kidding, but they will straighten out the situation.