Utility Rates

Questions about utility costs come up all the time in the forums. They get answered and quickly become both out of date and impossible to find. So, I decided to create a dedicated page for this information that, hopefully, we can keep up to date.

In general, utility rates are set by the government. On the national level you will see rates for electricity, propane, telephone and vehicle fuels. I believe water rates are set locally. For energy rates, see the INE page.

Electric Rates

Electric rates are set by INE. For 2012, the page where you can fine the right detail page for the month of interest is here. In other words, this is a good URL for 2012 but will then change. The generic INE URL above is the right starting point but if your Spanish sucks, this will get you closer.

The rates are designed to encourage conservation. For example, here are the residential rates for October 2012.

  • C$2.3498/kWh for the first 25 kWh in a month
  • C$5.0621/kWh for the next 25 kWh in a month (that is, from 25 to 50 kWh)
  • C$5.3018/kwh for the next 50 kwh (from 50 to 100 kWh)
  • C$7.0069/kWn for the next 50 kWh
  • C$6.5353/kWh for the next 350 kWh (no clue why this gets cheaper)
  • C$10.3801/kWh for the next 500 kWh
  • C$11.6348/kWh for the next 1000 kWh

The current exchange rate is about C$24 to the US$. That makes the low category (under 25 kWh/month) come in at a little less than $.10/kWh

To be added: vehicle fuel, propane, telephone.

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Pricey Power

How does this actually work out in practice? At the higher end (C$11.63 /KWH) a 5 KW solar PV array could have a two payback, even including the necessary supporting components like controller, inverter and battery bank.

Would some site members share their power bills?

The biggest driver would probably be AC, something I would need in Managua to sleep comfortably.

I noticed from some of Juanno's posts that irrigators used to get a special rate.

It works out in practice like the numbers you see.

An EWAG (Educated Wild A.. Guess) if you are thrifty for a smallish house might put 1/2 your power usage at each of the C$6.5353/kWh & C$10.3801/kWh rates for an average of about C$8.5/kWh = about $.33/kWh.

Batteries are the killer - A pair of Trojan T-6 are about 100 AH @ 12 VDC @ 50% discharge so at 90% inverter efficiency they store about 1kWh/night = $.33 savings per night.

Anther EWAG might put the battery lifetime at about 3 years given a 50% discharge every night.

Then the savings/battery pair in 3 years is $.33/night X 3 years X 365 nights/year = $361 and this about what the batteries cost.

So even if you got into the C$11.6348/kWh rate when you add in the other costs for PV panels & micro-controllers things are still not that great for energy storage.

Add a line tie inverter for AC savings during the day and the numbers may look a lot better "depending".

At the scale of a 1 kW panel an EWAG might put your daily average power generated over a year of weather at 4 kWh = $1.33/day = $485/year

A guy in SJDS offers $3/watt installed PV panels + the cost of a line tie inverter & micro-controllers etc = maybe $5000 for a 1kW system.

Thus a $5000 system/$485/year savings is a 10 year payback disregarding the cost of money which is pretty low these days thanks to Obama - Gotta throw in a dig even if I don't believe it :-))

So solar is still a tough game unless you are remote with no line power available. If you massage the numbers it might look a little better.

I tried 6 pairs of Trojan T-6 battery storage in my diesel pusher motor home in the states to cut back on generator usage and it turned out to be a real loser. And this was true even excluding the cost of the PV panel and supplemental generator & motor home alternator charging. Lots of battery maintenance too.

EDIT: Later I will scan and post a couple of my monthly power bills - A cyber with AC 12 hour/day runs typically $150-$200 and my room with AC 24-7 and a bunch of outside lights runs about twice that.

The bills include the add-on fees and subsidies that Juanno mentioned + about 15% IVA tax so they are not easy to understand but my average rate does run about $.33/kWh even though I have the T-1 rate @ C$6.8704/kWh from the link that fyl posted.

My bill for cut off date for 10th of this month, October

141 kWh used for cost of 735.85 Cordobas

Less our subsidy for less than 150kWh used 393.33

Plus street lights % and other fees, we paid a total of 360.91 Cordobas

Not bad for a tourist lovin, Daily Mail reading, gated community dweller is it?

beat me..

by 10 cords..im going to have to quit posting here so much