California to Puerto Rico

Utility Bills in Puerto Rico – Monthly Electric Bills

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I am fuming over another ridiculously high water bill this month. For the past year, we have been battling broken water lines and our water bill has increased 20x from what it was this time last year. About two months ago, I installed a brand new water main (dug a trench 100’s of feet and used schedule 80 PVC), tested the meter and had the water company come out and check their lines. All is well on the water front, right? Wrong.

I got a new bill yesterday. It was another giant one that got me to go off on a tangent to Summer about how expensive it was and then a neighbor about how expensive the utilities are in Puerto Rico and how ridiculous it is to deal with the companies when there is a problem. I’ve vented about the Internet down here on the blog a number of times, but I haven’t really gotten into the water company or power company. I think this is a big enough subject that I am going to break down the topics to one per blog post.

Electric Bills in PR

Today, I am going to bitch about PREPA. PREPA stands for Puerto Rico Elecric Power Authority. They provide 100% of the power to the island. The electric bills at our house range between $350 and $500 per month. We run the usual utilities like a washer, dryer, refrigerator and hot water heater. We don’t have air conditioning in the entire house (just our offices and they are energy efficient DAIKIN split inverter ac units) but we do have ceiling fans. We also have computers, monitors, speakers, stereos and printers on in our offices. With that said, all our screens/monitors are energy efficient LCD screens and our hot water heater is propane ($65-$90 per 6ft tank) and our electronics use is no more than an average household these days (phone charging, laptops etc).

Rinconians Thoughts on Power Costs

Conversations that I have had with other home owners and business owners regarding power bills here always turn ugly. It is rare that people don’t walk away angry at the power company and dismiss it because there is nothing we can do about it. If you want to live in Puerto Rico, you have to deal with the way Puerto Rico treats its tax paying citizens and how Puerto Rican companies treat their customers. It becomes a Puerto Ricanism. Love it or leave it. From what I have been told by both Americans and Puerto Ricans alike is that he rule of thumb here is, if your last name sounds Puerto Rican, you won’t get hassled but if your last name is American, you’re going to see an increase in your bills. I don’t want to believe that, but stranger things have happened.

I started doing research for this blog post and discovered a few interesting articles that back up the hearsay about our power bills;Puerto Rico power is more expensive per kilowatt-hour than anywhere in the United States. For example, we pay 29¢ a kilowatt-hour (kWh) in Puerto Rico. That is almost three times the U.S. average of 9.9¢. On top of that, if you are a business here with the utilities in the name of the business, you will pay even more for electricity, about 4¢-5¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh) more. That’s right! Pay employees (payroll tax, hacienda taxes, social security, unemployment, workmen’s comp etc) who in turn spend their money in town on groceries, gas and entertainment and you will also have to pay more for your power. Like a company uses their power for evil? I think that is ridiculous and doesn’t seem like it should be legal.

Why do we pay so much for power?

I have a hard time believing that a country that has a national average income of $16,300 can afford to pay such high power bills. I have heard a few rumors about why this is true. One is that the government and the San Juan tourist hotels owe the power company over $300 million dollars. Apparently the debtors, are only making the minimum payments required by law to keep their power running. This kind of financial loss for PREPA could absolutely spill over and out of the consumers pocket. Another theory is that there is such massive abuse of the power companies inability to perform all the duties required of them, people are getting away with stealing electricity all over the island. Now, it might sound like a risky endeavor, but to all customers that have the old dial meters, it’s as easy as buying a high powered magnet an sticking it onto your meter. The dial, which spins to calculate the amount of power going into your house is made of metal, so the magnet will slow the spin down, thus showing less power used on the meter than was actually used. The strength of the magnet will dictate how much power you can steal.

There is a little more validity behind this theory as to why the power in Puerto Rico is so expensive. It id due to our dependance on oil to produce electricity. Coal is not readily available here like on the mainland in the United States so our power costs go up and down with the crude prices. Also, for doing such a slack job and being so unorganized, PREPA sure does have a lot of employees! On a megawatts served basis, PREPA (Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority) has more employees, offices, supervisors and administrators than any power company in the United States. Really? What are they all doing?

Apparently, they are sabotaging operations and generating plants! That’s right. Union employees were dragging their feet on projects and the blue collar union members became pawns for the political jousting their leaders were engaging in. Collective bargaining by the government with the Union to start generating power from Natural Gas to lower our reliance on costly oil was broken off by the union in the form of a strike. After the strike, a third party (Georgia Power Co.) was brought into assess the Power issues in Puerto Rico. They concluded that union members destroyed power lines, knocked down transmission towers and were sabotaging the generating plants. Ultimately, many unions members were fired and some were even convicted of the crimes they committed. Ultimately, over 400 of the union members that were fired were re-hired.

So there you have it. My rant on the ridiculously high electricity costs in Puerto Rico. These are just a few theories of why the electric bills in Puerto Rico are so expensive and I can’t really say any of them are facts. Even the Union is evil information I got was from a article that was politically motivated, so who knows how much of it is fact vs fabricated.

What type of experience have you had with the electric company in Puerto Rico? Did it take you months to get power? Did you have to bribe someone? Are your bills not that expensive or are they ridiculously high? I would love to hear everyone else’s experiences with the utilities here! Comment below!

Sources:

  • http://www.caribbeanbusinesspr.com/news02_free.php?nw_id=7019&cl_id=1
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_pricing

Comments

94 thoughts on “Utility Bills in Puerto Rico – Monthly Electric Bills

  1. Eric

    All of those theories are probable and that’s scary. But, you are right about Puerto Rico – It is what it is.

    Any news on a decision to go solar to maybe supplement these costs?

    Reply

  2. Naomi

    Wow, that’s a huge electric bill! Ours run about $85 a month. We don’t use A/C or a dryer, but we run ceiling fans constantly. We have an extra refrigerator that Sage uses for brewing beer, too. How is it possible to have a $350-500 electric bill?! Sounds fishy.

    Reply

  3. Kristen

    Thank you for posting this. We are moving to Puerto Rico in a year or so to that side of the island and your posts are giving us some great info although I recently found your blog when trying to figure out what grows in PR! As far as the power situation, I have no clue what the issue is, but I do remember when we were down on a trip a few years ago seeing the National Guard guarding power grids in Aguadilla because of all of the recent happenings.

    Reply

  4. Summer

    I’ve researched solar pretty extensively, as it’s on my short “to do” list. Unfortunately there are currently no options to roof mount a solar system (we don’t want to drill holes in our existing roof…) and I think ground mounting would be super laborious to maintain. Waiting for a solution…

    Reply

  5. clary

    My parents and sister and her family live in P.R. they have Spanish last names, their bills are in the hundreds…nix that theory. I would have to say this is probably because the power company is government run and well that pretty much says it all.

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  6. Linda

    Fascinating! Since we are not in Rincon all the time I can’t really comment on high bills. Our water bill is a BIG $6.00 a month (even when we are there or rent both the studio and our house). Electric ranges from $30 something to $60 something a month when we are not there BUT much much higher when we are. We only have ceiling fans, no AC, but the washer and dryer seem to run several times a day when we’re a full house. We’re going solar here in NJ (free installation and $40.00 a month rental). I’m doubting they have that in PR, or do they??

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  7. Rosana

    You nailed it on your last paragraphs. Too many Puerto Ricans complained a lot about everything. So, they do not like their electric bills but still turn down any options the government comes up with, not because they are against the ideas but because the do not belong to the same political party. About the American last names, I don’t think that it is accurate since my sister pays more for electric than me and she does not have a dryer or A/C, etc. The difference is that I live in Maryland and she lives in Ponce. Other than that, I cannot wait to for the US Congress to decide the status of the Island so all these shenanigans get under control.

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  8. Carol

    I think you got almost everything, you just missed one and it is that the people who work and the middle / high class have to pay for the people who doesn’t. We pay their food, their electricity, their water and even the telephone service.

    Reply

  9. Jeff

    :) The power company is actually one of the “better” companies to deal with! What does that say about the other companies!

    I actually don’t mind paying 30cents a KWH. We now use about 10KWH per day here without much regards to conservation. In the other house we were using about 6 or 7 KWH per day and the solar panels covered that. Today our usage is: fridg – 1.5 KWH(we use a lot of ice), tv – 1 KWH, DVR yes DVR 30W*24 hours is .7KWH, Laptops, lights, electric oven, electric clothes dryer, and scuba compressor about .5KWH per day on average.

    If you want more headaches and paperwork hassles you could try for the 50-65% rebates for solar panels. But that is kinda like a lottery now and it may be hard to get. The good thing is that panels are very cheap. You could do a grid tie only really cheap (no power when the power is out). You would probably want about 4K of panels @ $1.25 a watt + a $2000 inverter. That’s $7K + mounting, wire, and misc. Under $10K if you do most of the work yourself. Sun electric in Miami has a warehouse in PR. I know a guy at work who is a licensed PE with solar endorsement who could help. But again, if your power is crappy you won’t have or be making any power when the grid is down. Worse yet if the grid is low OR HIGH your inverter will shut down and not be producing power until the power is just right. 4k *4.5 sun hours is only 18KWH per day so you will still have a power bill.

    Reply

  10. katrina kruse

    Something Jeff forgot to mention is that we also run a pump to get water out of our cistern. The fridge is big (but new) and during the day I have one or two fans on from 4pm on and the bedroom one on all night. They are older ones. I always use the dryer (love it) but sun dry towels until mostly dry and toss for 10 min. I think we are paying $80 or so a month. Conservation (lights and fans off if not in a room) etc would drop the bill further. Conservation is the place to start.

    Remember, we are paying for the downtrodden Puerto Ricans who get their power and water for a subsidized rate ($10? minimum payment of $1?) for all they can use without conserving. And internet? If you work you can’t get the $29 plan – the poor non-working need the internet for what? Oh, jub hunting, rught,…we pay $49 for the same plan. Wonder if Familia pays for internet? Hmmm

    Reply

  11. Reinaldo

    I watched on you tube videos that the next paradise for American expatriates is Panama,anybody of these readers ever thinking to go there and find out?will love to read you blogs from Panama

    Reply

  12. Cassie

    My experience in PR is the same as Linda’s. The fridge is broken there and ran NON-STOP for 2 weeks and our bill hardly budged (plus lights, charging laptops, cell phones etc). Something sounds fishy with PREPA or you have have vampire appliances eating up a bunch of your electricity without you knowing it.

    Here are some ideas that you can do and that might be worth trying…Check anything that you have plugged in and see if you can unplug it nightly (microwave, stove, clocks, toys, chargers, computers, servers, etc). Try hanging the clothes outside or putting them on “air dry” instead of high heat. Open the windows at night to cool the house. If you try all those (and others?) conservation tactics and you don’t see a budge down at all, you’ll know that something else is going on.

    We did that here in Colorado and even in the heat of summer don’t pay much more than $45/month when most everyone else around pays $100-$200+ because they have central air and try and keep their houses 60 degrees in 100+ degree heat.

    Maybe they have a tiered system whereby if you go over a certain kw usage, you are bumped up to a higher cost per kw? They do that here in CO too. Hmm

    Reply

  13. Susan

    I live alone, run my A/C in my BR every night, have a gas dryer, electric water heater and stove, run 2 fans non-stop…my electric bill runs around $125/mo… sometimes a little less. They have just installed remote meters in my neighborhood and my bill went up a little (maybe $10-15), but I think that’s because it’s more accurate. The price of oil is the biggest indicator…if you leave your A/C’s on all the time, you are going to have a big bill…you simply can’t live like that here….turn them off and open the windows…you will see your bill go down considerably.

    Reply

  14. Wil

    Since I just moved into a house in Rincon and my electric meter is broken, flashing “ERROR,” I am anxiously awaiting an accurate (not estimated $120) electric bill. The elect co says it will take 2-3 weeks to fix the meter, I am calling them this week for an update, though they told me not to call and wait for the bill. Linda, I am in NJ so I can fully relate to what you are saying.

    Reply

  15. Carlos

    Hi everyone I wanted to help you guys out by giving you an inside look at what is really going on (yes I grew up in PR).
    1) The high cost of energy is due to a ridiculous amount of past due bills mainly from the “caserios”. Even though their bills are subsidized and they pay a minimal amount they are way behind in bills. The problem is that the government cannot cut off their electric services because it will generate a problem with the federal funds used to keep the caserios afloat.
    2) This generates high costs for the electric company, which in turn makes them charge more and more for their services, which leads to
    3) Hard working Boricuas which, like she said on her post average out at $16,000 a year, have no option but to install “pillos de luz” in order to avoid paying higher electric bills, which leads to
    4) A vicious cycle.

    Hope this gave you guys an insight on what the problem is. Let me know if I can be of any other help. Have a good ay.

    Reply

  16. Rose arroyo

    panama I was there for 2years hubby was in the army lived on base panama is a nice place like puerto rico i live in puerto rico living it expensive i pay for light 125 a month and was 30 dollars not bad and i have abig house with 3 bathrooms and 6 rooms and parking and all together the house is 9rooms so it cheap the house is my and this is not a state wish is great

    Reply

  17. amy

    I have family that live in Coamo who also have very high electric bills while their neighbors all have very low electric bills. My sister in law says its because they changed out her meter to a newer model and it increased her bill into the 100s. I have heard if you live in a rural area your bill is lower than if your in a community. Definitely Puerto Rico have their own ways of doing things that make NO sense what so ever.

    Reply

  18. Cassie

    Linda,
    In the summer, the bulk of the cost of electricity is in cooling. How cool do you keep your house? Who’s your electricity provider. In CO it’s Xcel Energy. Do you have a tiered system?

    We find if we just keep the A/C set at around 81 on the weekends and 83 during the day when we are not home, it hardly runs at all. We keep all the window blinds closed until the sun goes down then we open up everything. In CO there’s no cloud cover and super dry, so the temps go from 100 in the day to 60 at night…So we use that to our advantage to cool off the house for free. It’s a little warm when it’s 81 in the house, but takes the edge off 100 degree weather. And one thing I can’t stand is to be freezing cold in the middle of summer- that makes no sense to me. We don’t mind the heat too much (and that’s part of the reason why we’re moving to PR!) And plus we have a basement to “chill” in too. But we are really conscientious of our electricity usage even in the small stuff -everything from coffee pots to hair dryers.

    Reply

  19. Linda

    the humidity here keeps the AC running. I turn the AC up to 78/80 when we’re not home. Im on a “cheaper” electric company, but this is NJ. the most corrupt state in the country.

    Reply

  20. Julian H.

    Wow! Excellent article! Very informative and clears up a few things that have been on my mind. As a “Continental” American living here, I get continually tripped up by lack of posted info, as so much of PR society is word-of-mouth and through personal contacts. The burden of the immigrant I guess… Thanks, I will pass this along.

    Reply

  21. JeffandMary

    Hi, thank you for your blog. My wife and I are planning to move to PR perhaps in the next ten years and your blog has been very interesting, informative, and entertaining. I read it on and off and it really has grown! My wife’s family lives in Naranjito and costs seem to be cheaper over there. We visit about twice a year. They don’t complain much about utilities except when they’re not working which is fairly common i.e. no electric or no water. I guess when it’s working they’re happy to have it. We usually stay for two weeks and the power or water goes out a couple times for sometimes hours and hours and we’re sure happy when it comes back on! Also, thanks for the chicken coop plans. I had planned to build one when we were there in June. My wife’s mom said it was too big! She’s going to have someone build her a smaller one like the neighbor has. Anyway keep writing.

    Reply

  22. Cris

    Thats high. Alot of Puerto ricans however dont use clothes dryers or A/C. And many dont have hot water and use gas stoves…

    You can buy a solar panel hot water heater and tank, I believe they run around $1000 but not totally sure..

    Reply

  23. Pam

    I have a condo in Rincon and there are months when NO ONE is there and the main power switch to the apt is off, and STILL I get estimated electric bills. I have called them multiple times and they can’t seem to resolve the issue. I don’t understand the concept of the estimated bill. They just make that stuff up?? How hard is it to send someone around to read the meter??
    PS Linda – I’m in NJ too, and would be interested in hearing your experience going solar if you wouldn’t mind emailing me.

    Reply

  24. Jay

    I tell you what, I work with many people from the US that have US last names and they pay just as much as I do (Spanish name and last name). I however have heard that the price you pay is based on where you live, which is somewhat true because if you live in the projects or “caseríos”, you pay up to a certain amount but not more. Since I live in Guaynabo, I was always told that I would pay more than someone lets say in Utuado. I however have compared bills and compared how much I pay per Kw vs my co-workers and we pay the same, the only thing that did change however was the deposit to get the account, I did pay more that anyone else in my office, but I also was the last one to get the account, so it may have been cheaper a few years ago.

    What confuses me though is that I do have very efficient everything, and I melt in my house because I don’t turn on the A/C except to sleep, and the bills actually went up as I started to get more efficient appliances etc. That’s what really gets me, I just don’t know how is it possible to actually be using less electricity yet that amount of Kw that I’m “using” is actually higher than before. So I upgraded all of my appliances and light bulbs thinking it would be a good investment when it actually has not changed a thing. My neighbor reported the same thing.

    As a side note, my water bill also has been unusually high for the past few months and I too don’t know why, I have not changed consumption or anything, it’s just a higher water bill.

    Reply

  25. Betty

    I have a home in Vieques that is currently empty with just about everything turned off…my latest bill was for $77.00. We are moving there permanently in October and it should be interesting to see how our bill changes. We have had smaller bills come in after we have been staying in the house for a few weeks…rather frustrating and if our bills near the $300-$500 mark…our budget will be shot!

    Reply

  26. Kimberly

    The last bill came for $523. The lowest has been $220 around 3 years ago before we added a few more a/cs, a dryer and an electric water heater. The worst is the service though… The electric comes and goes at least 10 times a month. We live in Ponce. The only option to lower the bill is to go solar!

    Reply

  27. Linda

    Just got my monthly bill. It was $33.00. I have a dehumidifier, refrigerator and motion detector light on in the house. I’m not complaining but it’s weird considering what Betty said about her empty house.

    Reply

  28. Reinaldo

    I remember when Anglos use to called themselves as Americans back in the 70’s and 80’s.Remember stories from puertorricans and chicanos veterans never considered part of the team or one of them. Some people never considered Matinez and Henandez American enough surname. How things have changed the past 30 years. Don’t know why Stefan want to play the Victim part a la Al Sharpton.

    Reply

    • Stefan

      Reinaldo from Orlando – What are you talking about? Al Sharpton was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election and civil rights activist. He’s no more of a victim than the rest of us.

      Reply

  29. Cassie

    Betty,
    I just checked out your blog! Congrats on moving to Vieques. That is a beautiful island. I am looking forward to following along on your blog! We, too, are planning on moving to PR. But in about a year (you can see our progress on our site as well). Hopefully the electricity costs won’t hurt your budget too much! We are thinking that we may want to save up for solar just in case!

    Reply

  30. Rose arroyo

    some people say bill are high here because this is not a state we here in puerto rico dont want to be a state we are happy as we are like is more expensive stateside . if this become a state we will be in a lot of trouble thing will cost more almost everyone here in puerto rico has internet this is a real nice island life is great as it is state is not what we want we need a change of goverment the one fortuno he not good padilla is what we want

    Reply

  31. Rose arroyo

    panama is not a state…its independent…it a nice place but life is expensive when it comes to living so i been told…when i live there it was there is lot of places to see like puerto rico…the claim is the same the bases that used to be there are not more the bridge of the american was build so the locks could be open all the time . there used to be lot of base for army I lived in ft kobbe…it gone now ….

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  32. Zoraida Espinoza

    I just read your blog and I totally understand your pain. I don’t know if having a Spanish last name or not really makes a difference, but I do have one, and my bills are ridiculous. Just this past month in June, I had my sister over for a month, she used the AC only at night, leaving me with a $260 electric bill. On a regular basis our bill is 150-160 without the AC. Just using the refriderator, a computer, ceiling fans, and washer and dryer. I cook on my Bar b Q grill to save some energy too. The only other appliance I use I the kitchen would be the microwave every once in a while. We used to live in Old San Juan and our bills used to be $250 monthly no AC. With AC it would be $300-$350. Now living in Juncos, it has been less, but I still think its high. What to do next? I guess it makes up for vEry expensive rent in the states.

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  33. Reinaldo

    There are more chance that USA become a bilingual nation like Canada than Puerto Rico become the 51 state.Governor Fortuño could be a good running for VicePresident with Mitt Romney as President Candidate.President Obama is a puppet for the Clintons and the Kennedys on the other hand Governor Fortuño is a corporate Attourney .He and Romney will be a great Duo Dinamico

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  34. Rose arroyo

    haha fortuno cant be good for puerto rico less good to be part of the state rommney no good either.. duo dinamico that like 2 stooges….they are no good puerto rico is now worse sin fortuno is in office. and this bill water and light has nothing to do with last names ….silly fortuno is like rossello getting money to build a house in rich virginia….he need to leave puerto rico vote no to fortuno

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  35. Rosana

    Rose, please give me a break. You just missed to whole point of Stefan’s research for this post. Maybe you should re-read after turning the so-harmful political switch in your brain.

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  36. Rosana

    Sorry, late profreading. “You just missed the whole point of Stefan’s post. Maybe you should re-read it after turning off the so-harmful political switch in your brain.

    Now that’s better!

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  37. Jaime

    I find it highly doubtful that PREPA is discriminating based on last names. High kW/hr cost will always translate to a high power bill. A big part of it is the reliance on oil, but more worrying is the dire state of its finances. I have done extensive research on this subject, and a source of good information is the Center for the New Economy. Here is a link to a very informative analysis they did of PREPA:
    http://grupocne.org/2010/06/27/darkness-visible-a-financial-analysis-of-the-puerto-rico-electric-power-authority/

    Reply

  38. Craig

    Power is very exspensive on the island and the unions aren’t helping. I was just looking at my bill for last month and it’s crazy. I can tell you this, solar is a very poor choice for energy. The cost has come down some but it’s got a long way to go. I’ve seen a 12 panel system first hand and what it can produce, somewhere around 1.50$ a day and the payback is like 25 years. Without alot of help from the government (subsidies) thats part of the problem. The only way the government can help pay is by taking money (taxes) from the people that pay their bills… It’s a vicious cycle…

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  39. Craig

    Jaime, I took a look at the link you provided and that’s a scary group. They talk about a cap and trade system for the island. If you don’t want to see your power bill go up hope they never get in the pocket of the government. They seem to be a progressive group funded by organizations like the Ford Foundation. The big problem with green energy is it cost way to much to produce.

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  40. Fran and Steve

    True, true, true, and true in my opinion. All except for the last name business. We have an 1800 sf home and use anywhere from 600 to 1100 kWH per month, depending on the season. Our bill is between $150 and $300. We have the same appliances and electronics as everybody else, except that we have 6 Daikin inverter ACs. We always have AC on in the room(s) we are in. I have been told that ceiling fans use more electricity than a Daikin inverter AC. — Fran

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  41. Jeff

    Get a Killowatt meter! Use the Killowatt meter to figure out what your using. If it has a plug and is less than 15amps you can use the kilowatt meter to tell you how much electricity the appliance uses.

    Typical (newish) refrigerators use 1 to 2 KWH per day. That’s 30 – 60 cents a day. 9 to 18 dollars a month.

    Older/Stylish incandescent light bulbs can easily use way more than this. Let’s say you have 10 50 Watt accent lights that are on 10 hours a day. That’s a whopping KWH a day or $45 a month just for some accent lights.

    The items that don’t have a cord are harder to figure out what they use like ceiling fans and AC units. I have read that some ceiling fans can use 2 – 3 times as much or more than other models to move the same air! I’ll have to find a way to measure this. All our ceiling fans are old.

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  42. Luis

    WOW. I was thinking of moving to Rincon but after reading about all these problems Im not really sure. I live in the great state of Texas where at this time of the year it is still 102 degrees at nine oclock at night. The central ac unit runs constantly because it cant cool the house. You cant sit outside because its too hot. We are on water restrictions and if you dont use your water at all you still get a bill for 55 dollars. We have a huge problem with drugs and crime coming from Mexico and dealing with companies like AT&T can be a 2 hour wait on the phone (trust me Ive worked for them for 33 years) I think you should all move back to the states and enjoy the great american way. But remember you are not going to have the beaches , weather, surfing, sunsets and a great christmas every year. Also dont let me forget that a property that you pay 3,000.00 dollars a year in taxes will cost you 6,000.00 dollars a year over here. Good luck!

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  43. Fran and Steve

    Haha, good points Luis! We’ve been in PR for a little over a year, and we often talk about moving back to CA or even to TX because of all the problems here. But… we always come to the same conclusions you pointed out, so we think we will stay for a while. Oh and by the way, property taxes on your primary residence here are ZERO for the first $150,000 of APPRAISED value, and if you are a veteran, there is an added $25K exemption. — Fran

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  44. Rose arroyo

    yes that why we live in Perto Rco cause the taxes has a limit on house you own…not like if it would be a state that dont apply you have to see the good and the bad states hood not for us ok and as soon as with chance the goverment that now we will pay less for water and light…. my friend tell me in the states all expensive I lived there and owed a home and sold it and happy as a bee in PR

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  45. Luis Barreto

    I was reading your blog and had to write you about this. My electric bill was around as much as yours. I went solar and now I only pay $3 dollars. With the current prices of PREPA you will get back your investment in around 7 years. I’m and certified installer and can help you out, also you can contact other certified installers in http://aae.gobierno.pr/.

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  46. Sara

    Soooo… what I want to know is, given the utils issue, would you still recommend moving from CA to PR? Thinkin’ about it, provided I can make enuf dough doing part-time virtual writing for various companies in US and abroad. Planning to rent not buy.

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  47. Leslie Claudio

    I am recently buying a house in PR that my brother lives in and it is less than 800 sqft and his water bill is 40 a month and electric is 150 to 250 no a/c or water heater. He was told by the water company that he has to pay for the electricity that is used on the streets and gov’t owned properties as it is prorated onto consumers in the town you live in so even if your not home you have to pay that amount unless its cut off an the reconnect fee is like 500. Crooks I say! The monopoly on energy cannot be stopped by this gov’t.

    Reply

  48. Rolando

    I have been reading your post on energy bills, it seems a little to fishy that you guy’s are paying too much, sounds like you have parasite leaching from your power line, of course im not there to see it, but if i were you i would check it out asap.

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  49. Mina

    Go solar (very easy), hang your clothes to dry and take cool showers (a hot water heater is kinda overkill in the tropics). I lived in St. Croix for several years and never had an electric bill nor water for that matter since rain water is free. Living off the grid is the only way to live, even more so in the tropics……just sayin.

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  50. Reinaldo

    Mina ,don,t feel sorry about these readers.M ost of them live part time and stay few weeks of the year. by the way one paradise in the Mainland is called Key West about 4 hrs south of Miami

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  51. Pablo Rodriguez

    No matter where you’re going to live, continental USA or our motherland PR there is a big movement going on all over with people reversing they’re whole way of living to the way things were done in the years of our grandfathers. Call it backwards or whatever more people now that this is becomming a neccesity in order to survive. When you go to your colmados, grocery store, supermarkets, have you notice how the size of everything you buy like packaged food items keeps shrinking? And the kicker, is that the prices of the same items keep going up! Now you have all this “Urban” community farm movement sprouting all over. People are going back to raise chickens in the urban houses backyards for they’re eggs and meat. Same thing with the cost of gas. And you can see the situation with electrical power in PR. With being located in the Carribean, we are blessed to have all that sun that could be transformed into energy to be used for our home consumption. The trick is harnessing all that energy that has been for so long been going to waste, and transforming it into electrical power that we can use. The ovious solution here then is going SOLAR, maybe even make it to be off-the-grid combining other things like wind generated power turbines, using the rain water, and/or recycling our brown water. It is possible, and the way things are going my friends, it oviously looks like the direction to follow. I think that time has come that people are finding out all this “urban” flood living and high-tech modernized ways of living are no longer working in our overcrowded and shrinking natural resources planet. Congratulations on your families move from CA to our dear Borinquen island. We look forward to follow that same path in a very near future. God bless.

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  52. ed lo

    I was sitting in the local electric company office when I overheard a 58 year old or so lady do the following (this was recently). She started to tell the office employee a sob story. My husband and I have seperated and I can not pay the expensive electric bill because I do not work. This is a lady dressed in business attire with the help of her daughter also in business attire sitting next to her wearing a large & lovely diamond ring ( my father is a retired N.J. Jeweler so I can spot quality). Looking at everyones body language, it seemed like a WINK! WINK! situation. I speak English and Spanish and in any language I would call what I saw as “well you seem like a nice personand someone has prepared you on the questions I HAVE TO ASK YOU. What the hell everyone does it. Let me hury this up so you can make it to Plaza America Mega Mall and go shopping. After all the new season wears have just come out at Macy’s. Electric Co. workers here in P.R. make the cast of Jersey Shore look like Thespians. Especially Snooki! (My parents were born here. I haved lived here since 2002)

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  53. FABIAN ROCA

    hey i hope you read this… I LIVE IN PR. and i know allot of people who pay to much in there bills. 600 dollars a month in a home… my father pays about 1000 more or less in his business… i found this article because i had an idea that can change EVERYTHING. its an invention that i will put to the test… IF IT WORKS, and i dont see why it wont. I can be the next Millionaire in PR, giving ANYONE the power they need to bring down that bill in a legal, efficient , clean way… if anyone would like to know how im going to do it… you can send me a message .. [email protected]

    Reply

  54. Doug and Millie

    Currently as they are on strike for more money, our first bill was only
    $40 ( $3 a month when we were in Az) last month with floor fans running 24/7. We get our power from Santa Isabel ( which now has huge windmills to supply power) so our bill will be lower hopefully. 90k a year for a janitor is out of wack if you ask me.

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  55. chris

    Puerto Rico is really hot during summer and a little chill during winter, so you may need to reconsider the water heater. If you want to reduce cost, buy a cheap solar water heater and a propane dryer. About a solar system, they are quite expensive and maybe this is not an option.

    Reply

  56. AngelSr

    Hmmmm seems kind of high. from what I’ve seen you spent allot of time out and about ,you guys stay busy So it not like your in the house with everything on all the time. Have you thought maybe someone else is using your power lines ??? I’d say look into it and have someone look at your meters and pass bills.

    Reply

  57. mark

    Hey you can object the billing of the electric company is said so on the bill.
    I do it every month and dont pay the things that they charge because of goverment neglicency

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  58. Paul

    I’ve lived in San Juan around nine years & definitely feel your pain on the high utility costs here. However, $300-500/month is not normal unless you’re running AC 24/7 in a large house. You may want to have your wiring checked – you could be leaking electricity into ground. I’m not an electrician, but I understand this is possible and potentially unsafe. That would also explain your high kW/month use.
    A few other general tips:
    Ceiling fans use a lot of energy so don’t leave them on when you aren’t in the room. They use almost as much energy as a window AC unit.
    Seal your roof with white-tinted sealant. My house had a light grey roof when I bought it & during the day the ceilings inside were actually hot to the touch. Changing the roof to white took care of that which obviously makes cooling easier.

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  59. Cesar

    The theories on why energy is so expensive are pretty accurate. The one part left out and the one that ties all the theories together is that by law PREPA MUST charge for all power consumed. Thus, whatever the hotels, companies, municipalities (one of the bigger deadbeats), and those stealing power do not pay gets passed along to everybody else. Then, of course, is the “oil adjustment”. I don’t mind paying the 29 cents per KW/H, but it grates me that a 225 dollars bill might translate to 75 for actual power and 150 for oil. However, I’ve never paid more than 250 or so and that’s been during the summer months.

    Reply

    • Stefan

      Cesar – This is very insightful. I’ve heard that some of the hotels in Isla Verde make minimum payments to keep their power on but have racked up millions of dollars in electric bills over the years. What a crazy law.

      Reply

  60. Gary P

    Ya gotta watch the appliances that either create heat ( Range/oven, dryer, water heaters, hair dryers, irons) or move heat (refrig, A/C, dehumidifiers), after that, big motors (washer, pumps, compressors). Those are the big energy hogs..
    (3) 24kbtu AC unita are gonna suck some KWs – even efficient ones. Tropical houses aren’t built thermally efficient either. R values of block or concrete is about R2 ( the same thickness in a normal stateside wall would be about R19) and the windows? – thin aluminum, excellent heat transferance – just like heat fins in a radiator. Add to that a slab floor and no ceiling insulation and your AC is working double-time. Try a month with no A/C and a clothesline instead of the dryer.
    That said, something does sound “amiss”. Our electric bills just up the hill from you have been averaging 35-40/mo. (no A/C, no dryer, medium sized EnergyStar fridge, gas range & water heat)

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  61. Andrew

    Hi Stefan, I found your blog by researching electrical rates in PR during a research project I am producing. My company is currently involved in Solar and other renewable and sustainable technologies for residential and commercial applications. I’d be happy to extend you a quote for PV panels that would dramatically reduce your energy bills.

    Andrew Henderson
    (904)-583-0648
    Regional Manager
    A-1 Green Energies
    Jacksonville, FL
    San Juan, PR

    Reply

  62. Nathan

    We lived in Kaua’i for 2 years. We paid aroun $0.45/kWh, so I don’t think you’re the most expensive. I bet Lana’i is even higher. That said, we had the following to reduce our electric down to around $150/mo:
    1) solar hot water, which was GREAT
    2) a solar hot water pump to circulate it
    3) Propane dryer, but it died, so….
    4) Line dry clothes
    5) No A/C anywhere, just ceiling fans and windows open year-round. One actually got stuck open because we never shut it…
    6) Propane stove
    7) These awesome power plugs called Smart Strips. These would only turn on the printer and accessories once I turned on the computer, and only turned on the stereo, DVD player, etc, when I turned on the TV.

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  63. Catherine

    I am from New Zealand and our power bills are similar to Puerto Rico. It is 24 c per kilowatt here. In the winter we have bills around 400-500 dollars, and that is in a fully insulated house. Saying that we do run two oil heaters all night and a heat pump most evening. However that is without a dryer, using cold water to wash in, and energy saving light bulbs. In the summer, without the heaters, its about $150-220. My husband is Puerto Rican, if we moved there I think the electricity prices would not seem to much =)

    Reply

  64. Matt

    I enjoyed reading through your blog post on this subject. I am currently living in Isla Verde near San Juan and I’m having the same issues with the power bills. It’s completely out of control and should be illegal what they are doing down here. Bear in mind that there are 3 issues here that primarily contribute to the costs.
    1) As you mentioned, the labor unions and the burden that the PREPA employees put on the system. It’s pretty well known that if you work for PREPA then it’s nearly impossible to get fired…. period!! They get paid more than most people on the island and work about half as much
    2) Working people with incomes and jobs pay the rate that you reference (.29cents kw/hr) but guess what?? There are a substantial amount people on the island that receive vouchers, get discounted rates, don’t have to pay, etc. For the people who live in government housing, they pay less than half of what everyone else does. Also, there are businesses who are known to be “related” to high ranking government officials who either don’t pay because their power bills never “get to them” or they have some sort of discount.
    3.) As you mentioned, and I want to elaborate on, the plants, systems, and grid are highly inefficient. The plants are dated, use fuel oil to operate. The methods to get power from one place to another are very antiquated and inefficient, therefore contributing to substantial losses of power before it even reaches its destination. Also, the governments make no efforts to reduce energy usage. Try driving down some highways in Puerto Rico during the middle of the day… Street lights are on all day everywhere.

    I think that the ultimate solution for the island is to make an extreme show of force by not paying power bills. If the people of Puerto Rico could rally together, and for example, declare that they will not pay any power bills next month, don’t you think that would get some attention. Just don’t pay… everyone!! Businesses, governments, individuals. Show PREPA that they need to look at themselves and show the Puerto Rican government that it will not be tolerated! My 2 cents only.

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  65. Betty

    Hi, I have been following your blog. Great insight. I am moving to PR (Hatillo) at the end of this month. Was wondering if you have considered solar energy for your home. I don’t have a job in PR yet and I am wondering if the energy bills are going to consume my savings faster.

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  66. Dana Kavanagh

    To be honest the energy business is very unstable, and sometimes they try to get away by “mistakenly” putting someone else bill in yours, wich is why people constantly go to make complaints at the energy office. As far as giving you higher energy bill because of having an american last name might and might not be true, people in Puerto Rico
    likes their gossip.

    Reply

  67. Brian Rossi

    Cool blog and feed! Lots of different things going on down there. This section talking about the power is especially interesting. I look at life in the sense of the simplest terms of survival costs ie; food, shelter, utilities when considering moving to new destinations. 300-500 seems incredibly high, so id have to agree that you’ve got to have some sort of drain on the system. I also believe in the corrupt nature of the power company too. As well as the tourist destinations and hotels getting by with minimal payments. The CEO’s of these places know that tourism dollars for the state are ESSENTIAL to life down there in a modern fashion. Doing away with their power supply would mean no vacationers and the entire island would be completely crippled. That being said, I personally am very aware of what is plugged in at my apartment. Folks need to remember that power “at the switch” of any appliance or device means electricity is being consumed nonstop. Hooking everything to power strips and killing the whole strip when not in use is step 1 but actually unplugging anything thats not physically being used is the ONLY way to ensure there is no unnecessary burn off. Updated lines from the source to your meter to your insides of the house is another must have. However, all in all, I would take a slightly higher bill and be in paradise utilizing a ‘camping’ style water heating setup, near zero usage living while out for the day and proper wind/shade situating of my home than be stuck in some freezing cold northern US state with dirty cheap bills and sweaters on! also just my 2 cents..

    Reply

  68. Roger evans'

    Hello Betty;
    Your insights into solar power are spot on. There is a huge need for this service now that the effeciency is getting better over time. I may be able to help yourself and others with new products and service to cut your electric bill by 50% or more. Spread the word “ob~oh Group 962” Can help… See email addy to contact.

    Reply

  69. Doug and Millie

    Well the windmills are turned off all over the island now, wern’t producing enough power is the claim . ( rumor is the power company was powering them with their/ our power)

    Our average bill is about $80 an month, with fans running 24 /7 . We have only 1 ceiling fan and mostly Lasko Floor fans . ( as our house is not finished). Our concrete/ block house has upper windows that let the eastern breeze in all the time but we have no windows yet on the western side of the house.

    Average indoor temps range from 70’s to 90’s every day ( 80’s common) in a 1000 sq ft home.

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  70. 2much

    I’ve lived in PR for 20 years or so and the electricity costs are definitely higher than they used to be..but just about everything else is too. I have a very large home with 6 bedrooms, 5 baths a workshop that is huge and an enclosed garage. I don’t own an air conditioner just cross ventilation and a few floor fans in the afternoon.

    I use little desk fans in my office that has three desktop computers, a laptop, a tablet, a music system and a small TV along with printers and scanners that are only on when in use. The office gets warm, it is Puerto Rico.

    Around the house are two refrigerators and a big freezer, electric garage door and entrance gate and my bills are around 110 a month. You might want to request that Prepa send someone to take a close look at your meter and be sure it matches the number of the meter for your account as people here have been known to switch out meters so you would be paying someone else’s bill. Because most electric meters are remotely read by a hand held device, the meter reader guy would not be likely to notice.

    On the other hand a clothes dryer and ACs can make a huge difference. Having an uninsulated roof can help too. If your offices are on the second floor and your home is typical wood beam construction rather than concrete, it would get much hotter inside than a similar concrete roofed home.

    I am very careful with utilities, going so far as to use an insulated carafe coffee maker so the coffeemaker goes off as soon as it brews a pot. It is the only way I keep my bills as low as they are. Pennies do add up.

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  71. Doug and Millie

    They are all on strike again today, Go Figure.

    Millie went to Santa Isabel to pay her aunts bill and they were closed and were all outside pickiting……………………….Not sure when they will reopen/go back to work………………..:(

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  72. Mike Conchin

    I have to agree with you 100 %. I have been living in PR for 1 1/2 years and I have had water bills from $60.00 a month all the way to $400 a month (a water bill WHAT???). I have been battling with the water company over the $400 bill and they have told me that they have reviewed all my statements for the last 12 month and see nothing wrong with the bill. WHAT THE HELL??? In addition, I have had electric bills from $400 dollars a month being the smallest and $900 being the most. I have a wife and a baby and my wife only uses the High Efficiency AC at night time to sleep and the house has numerous windows so the lights are rarely used in the day time. I have to agree both companies are DIRTY and good luck if you ever try and fight the bill. If you do not agree with the bill, they will shut off your water and electric. Furthermore, travel into the projects and you will see that they have there AC on all day. I recently talked to an employee from HACIENDA and he told me that the electric bill in the projects is based on what the customers income is and also stated that some people pay a $1 a month and are 10 months behind and the electric never gets turned off. Who the hell knows what is going on. Do not even get me started on the taxes in PR. Have a great day

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  73. Doug and Millie

    They turned on the windmills again just to impress Bill Clinton when he came for a energy visit.

    They say the ones in Santa Isebel will now power 35,000 homes.

    My electric bill is now $114 and I haven’t changed a thing. Water is nearing $60 a month with sewer.

    I went right under those windmills today to get supplies from a farm nearby, most were turning ,but there was no wind at all this morning….

    Go Figure! AEE is a scamer!

    Reply

  74. Doug and Millie

    They just added a surcharge for everyone to the water bill for the” EPA” they say, an extra $20 a month.

    Our electric dropped to $97 this month.

    Reply

  75. Luis Lopez

    Good morning from Texas. I was just paying my average 300.00 summer electric bill before I leave for Rincon(arrive wednesday morning at 3 am). Im retiring nov. 1st after 34 years with ATT tel co. Im going to look at homes in Rincon where Ive vacationed for the last 5 years. I know the traffic sucks during special events, the Econo is expensive, Its a pain to register your vehicle and electric bills are high. Knowing all this Im aware whats ahead. Remember today you are as young as you are going to be. Put aside your politics and ugly remarks and go down to the Calypso and have a drink(first one is on me) Life is too short for trivial stuff. Enjoy and live on.

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  76. Summer

    Luis – You are exactly correct. There are some annoying things about Puerto Rico/Rincon, but there are annoying things everywhere you may go. The beauty/lifestyle/life that Rincon affords is far beyond any of the annoyances and honestly, if we put out some effort, that can all be avoided. $5 for wilted lettuce at Econo? Grow your own (so easy in the tropics). $500 electric bill from crooked utility company? No better place for solar panels and to go off grid. We hope to be completely off the PR grid in less than 5 years, but it just boggles my mind that electricity is so expensive in a place that can easily generate power all year from solar. Hopefully we will see you around Rincon soon! :)

    Reply

  77. Leah

    In PR the electric bill would be cheaper if they had a nuclear power plant, like the one in FL. I used to pay $120 for electricity services in an apartment in PR. For a similar apartment In Miami I used to pay $50. However, petroleum is the only resource, for now. Unless, you get solar elwctric panels. Good luck on your journey! I wish you make a lot of money to pay the bill and get richer!

    Reply

  78. Suzy Dennis

    I was just in Puerto Rico for two weeks and traveled the around the entire island. In the south we saw many, many windmills along the way which they must be using to produce electricity. Maybe a few in Rincon would help.

    Reply

  79. rosita

    I wonder way puerto rico pays for water, when its suppose to be a liquid that is natures a gift of god.an the worst part that if u dont pay u wont have water have mercy on this world, look at whats going on with lots if people in this world.please think water is a precious gift of god.

    Reply

  80. Drew

    If there is no property tax and no need to pay income taxes in PR (as I’ve heard) plus no need to heat your house, then the savings can compensate the high KWH electricity cost, no? How about live in Cordillera Central and perhaps no need to use a/c there as well? I like my house in low 70s Fahrenheit, but in winter 62F is fine.

    Reply

    • Stefan

      Drew – We pay income tax in PR. Corporate taxes are the highest in the U.S. and I would gladly pay more property taxes for better schools. With all that said, I like your positive perspective on a negative thing. Thanks for your input.

      Reply

  81. Linda

    I have lived in PR for more than 15 years and what he is saying is true–OUTRAGEOUS utility costs from a monopolized electric and water company are unbelievable—The casserios are one thing where low income people live and do not pay for water or electricity and go there sometime to use what they are using but also I do not know if it is the same in the states but the way electric is charged here is not standard and is based on the area where you live which is wrong also—I could rant and rave on and on and yes it is frustrating because you feel your hands are tied. Now with these unions picketing because they have had benefits taken away from them its more frustrating when you go to these offices and see how they are run—One day take a trip and spend your day observing how these offices with people who feel they are not being paid enough are run and you will laugh. When people in the private sector are struggling to keep their jobs and pay HIGHH bills it is really no laughing matter–In my company the average water bill is 400.00 and one of locations received a monthly bill of 32,000 for water and for electric our company averages 3500-8000 and we do not use a lot of power–SO yes something needs to be done here in puerto Rico and if your thinking to move here think twice about what you will pay for your utilities

    Reply

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