The Federal Electricity Commission, or CFE, admitted that it overbilled customers in Yucatan because they based charges on estimates and not real meter readings.

The CFE rectified bills for two restaurants — La Mercadería and D’Leo — whose cases went viral on social media. But it has yet to make amends with thousands of homeowners who report being charged up to five times their normal bill.

One business office complained that although their doors have been shut since the coronavirus contingencies, and despite having solar panels, power bills went from 200 or 400 pesos to 9,683 pesos for a two-month cycle.

A Dzemul woman whose humble home has only two light bulbs, a fan and an old television, received a bill for almost 6,000 pesos, which followed previous bills for 3,644 and 4,638. At the nearest CFE office, in Motul, she said the attendant there would only scold her when she questioned the charges.

Class action

Néstor Álvaro Muñoz Góngora, lawyer and business law professor, announced a class-action suit against the federal agency. Unlike a complaint through Profeco, the federal consumer watchdog, a court action can force the CFE to pay damages, he said.

“Currently, against improper charges, the only apparent or known defense by users and some lawyers is to file a complaint that is promoted before Profeco, but in our opinion, it lacks effectiveness in most cases,” he said.

He said that few lawyers in Yucatan specialize in litigation on CFE-related issues.

Anyone who wish to join the class action is invited to call 999-325-8225.

State action

Yucatan Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal and CFE Director Manuel Bartlett Díaz agreed to create a special panel starting Tuesday to analyze and monitor billing disputes.

After a dialogue on the subject with the federal government official, Vila Dosal reported that leaders of business chambers and those who have been taking steps before the CFE will be invited to the table.

“In the state government we will continue to ensure that Yucatan has fair rates in the face of the serious economic situation we are going through due to the coronavirus contingency,” said Vila Dosal.

Merida fights back

Mayor Renán Barrera Concha announced that the Mérida City Council will offer free legal advice to anyone who feels gouged by the CFE.

“In addition to this, as City Hall we request the Federal Electricity Commission to rethink its collection strategy in the Yucatan Peninsula and specifically in the city of Merida,” he said.

City residents can contact tariffsjustas@merida.gob.mx for advice and help initiating a legal procedure.

“It is incredible that in a (coronavirus) contingency like the one we are going through today, where we are forced to stay at home and where we are also forced to close to businesses, electricity bills reach higher than ever,” Barrera Concha said.

Yucatan has historically paid higher electricity rates than the rest of the country based on a formula that takes into account the state’s geography and infrastructure.

Sources: Yucatan Ahora, Sipse, La Jornada Maya