Visitors to Cozumel 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 purpose.
The electrical system in Cozumel 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”,
and these areas are likely to experience a full outage once
or twice a year especially during rain or wind storms as
well, but CFE (the federal electricity company) is very
good about getting power restored within a few hours. 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.
you decide to live in Cozumel long term, you’ll need
to get a contract for your electricity. Go to the CFE office,
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.
Bills 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 CFE office, or use the auto-tellers there…they
take cash. Easiest is to pay at the checkout of most supermarkets
or at any SIX store (there are dozens of them all over Cozumel,
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 stores)
through the next-to-last-day before the actual due date,
so again, don’t wait. You can also pay your bill at
your bank, again for a small additional charge.
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.
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. OK, just kidding, but they will straighten
out the situation.