ICE turn on thermal plant despite having reservoirs filled

Entity claims that renewable electricity production became insufficient

Impact of the measure could be seen in electricity rates from July

April 22nd,2015

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) fired its thermal plants to generate power, despite its four reservoirs recorded levels higher than projected at the time water.

The entity uses fossil fuels (the most expensive and polluting source) after successfully avoided for 86 days: from December 22 2014 to March 17, 2015. In that period, generating covered almost 100 % by clean resources.

That "renewable" record lurched March 18. Thereafter, the country relies on thermal plants "steadily" according to Juan Quesada, mayor Energy Regulatory Authority of Public Services (Aresep).

Only between March 18 and April 6 were generated 33,400 megawatt hours (MWh) heat; the majority (96.8%) by Garabito, the most efficient of all eight of the ICE project.

How does this affect citizens? The use of oil for generation could cause an increase in electricity rates in the adjustment to be made in July variable cost of fuel (CVC).

This quarterly adjustment depends on how much fuel (bunker and diesel) purchased the ICE to operate its thermal.

For example, since it was not necessary to use this source during the last quarter, the application of CVC on 1 April led to a fall of up to 15% on electricity bills. In December, January and February the generation run of river grew 55% and wind production doubled over the same period of 2014.

Besides being pollutant, the thermal energy is often more expensive than renewable. In May, a private generator sold kilowatt hour (kWh) biomass ¢ 37; almost three times cheaper than the average cost of kWh produced in Garabito.

Why go back to the heat? According to Luis Pacheco, manager of the ICE, clean resources are "insufficient".

"Use all available renewable resources is made; from the time these become insufficient to meet demand, consider thermal generation, "said the chief.

Pacheco's statements appear inconsistent with hydrological conditions this summer, which have allowed to store large volumes of water and remain favorable. By Sunday, the levels in the four reservoirs (Arenal, Cachi, Angostura and Pirrís) were higher than expected.

El Arenal recorded 541.66 meters above sea level (ms nm), although projected 535.33 meters. Cachi was 986.10 (instead of 985.70 meters); Angostura, 575.93 instead of 573.50 m asl, while the water level in Pirrís is almost two meters above expected.

In any case, the heat should be the last option for the ICE. Before exploit, should ensure that no megawatts at cheaper prices in the Regional Electricity Market (MER). According to Pacheco, this obligation was fulfilled in 86 "renewable" days and continues to be fulfilled.

The Nation consulted Quesada of ARESEP, if prices in the MER are indeed more expensive than handling the Garabito plant, but at press time no answer.

Read more: 'La Nación'


Energy Distributors denounce ARESEP by discrepancies in Poasen regulation

Distributors fear that provisions affect their finances

Support to Minae, entity that requested ARESEP change rules

April 22nd,2015

The House of Power Distribution Companies and Telecommunications ( CEDET ) denounce before the Administrative Court to the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) by regulations contained in the Regulation of Planning, Operation and System Access National Energy (Poasen) .

The Poasen determines the conditions of the electrical connection at the national level, the obligations of operators and clients connecting to the network. The regulations, published in April last year, contains a chapter on distributed generation, solar energy there appear.

"Some policy where further assumed that distributed generation is a public service, when we have done that query several times and have not been able to show that the government or the Legislative Assembly declared as a public service (...) We are emitted this must be an original plan of government, a national plan and no legislation of an autonomous entity as is ARESEP "said Erick Rojas, vice president of CEDET.

Rojas said they are convinced of their position and considers the extent ARESEP would shred any initiative that has to do with distributed generation system. "The other thing that concerns us are the benefits that this technology will bring believe that if well implemented and used could bring benefits, but as is the case of impose on distribution, are necessarily defined that companies should receive that energy, even without you know if you are going to need or price you will receive "he said.

The official believes that several payments that should not be included in the average tariff that would allow the distributed generator or consumer, who will be paid with benefits that, in their opinion, more expensive public service to other consumers without solar panel.

"It will force distributors to acquire that power, they will be forced to be willing grid so that when there is no sun and no wind, the consumer has the energy and will increase the costs (...) The distributor will have to meter protection systems, regulation and labor, "he said Rojas.

Boost to Minae

Edgar Gutiérrez, Minister of Environment and Energy (Minae), asked ARESEP modify the Poasen for solar projects could be driven. In a chapter of the regulation refers to solar energy and according ARESEP, the ministry must define the characteristics of the authorization certificates.

Also, at the end of next week the public hearings that will determine interconnection rates for this category will be made. "We support the ministry in defining that this is not a public service and should be well accepted by ARESEP (...) The lawyers are working out the details, think of presenting it as an amparo, but define it better through litigation" He quoted.

Rojas emphasized that distribution companies have advanced such projects according to their capabilities and expressed an interest in performing, among all a solar energy project of great magnitude.

"When done individually and becomes an individual business, affects not only the distribution forgone energy. But when contracts are signed for power put the complicated situation, as there may be times when the fare is more expensive which itself may be generating "described the vice president.

The entrepreneurs are worried by the differences between the Minae and ARESEP, coupled with the removal of a pilot solar energy that drove the plan Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) since 2010 and was concluded in the previous February



Differences between Minae and ARESEP by solar initiatives concern to entrepreneurs

Ministry consulted to the PGR for detail distributed generation

Acesolar is looking for Minae take the 'singing voice' in the subject

April 21st,2015

Energy sector entrepreneurs expressed worries, they said uncertainty and demanded a delay in setting interconnection tariffs for solar distributed generation.

In February, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) closed the pilot distributed generation solar energy that worked for five years. This decision, according to the sector, knocked out 'movement' pending rates and policies definitions.

"The pilot of the ICE is what causes the growth of this industry in the country. There are almost a thousand jobs related to this industry, when the plan is withdrawn from the market waiting for the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (Aresep) and the Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae) resolve the issue of regulation, is where all the companies were in limbo and a timeout, unable to practically sell, "said Fernando Ortuño, Green Energy Company and a member of the Association of Solar Energy of Costa Rica (Acesolar).

With the cessation, ICE began to reject applications by firms and households who wanted to implement this technology. Added to this, the sector still lacks regulations to operate as it is pending Regulation Planning, Operation and System Access National Energy (Poasen), which regulates distributed generation in the chapter on solar energy.

"That's where friction begin to emerge, so to speak, between ARESEP and Minae. We are at the point that the ministry was consulting the Attorney General's Office if distributed generation is a public service or not (...) If the PGR said that distributed generation is a public service revokes the Poasen, which is the regulation that defines distributed generation in the country. That would take an even greater backwardness "defended Ortuño.

Minister request

Last week, Edgar Gutiérrez, chief of Minae, told this newspaper that sent a second letter in pursuit of ARESEP accept a change in the Poasen regulation that allows the development of such projects.

"It will govern energy concession or permit. We, through Acesolar, we are trying to Minae be the decision maker and know that distributed generation you need is a permit In a house who will want to opt for a concession to install four or six panels? It really becomes innacesible by the step of requesting a concession to the ministry, "rebuked the employer.

ARESEP Act, Article 9 provides that an authorization certificate is required. It can be a license, permit or authorization to do with Poasen is the Minae which you define the characteristics of those licenses or permits.

"The regulatory authority shall not participate in any moment of this pilot project that drove the ICE. Even operated during the beginning of the validity of the regulation Poasen issued and valid for one year (...) The regulator what you foresee is that the technical provisions are met, companies are required to analyze what interested customers are in distributed distribution and sale of surplus, "said Carolina Mora, spokeswoman ARESEP.

Later this month the respective hearings for tariff setting will be made.



Minae wants to give more power to Recope in renewable energy

Minister admitted after opening of the national dialogue on transport

April 16th,2015

The Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae) asking it to give more power to Recope, so you can work with all kinds of renewable hydrogen, biofuels or biodiesel, alcohol ...

This was announced by Edgar Gutierrez, chief of Minae, adding that to achieve aims modifying the Constitutive Act of the Costa Rican Oil Refinery (Recope), No. 6,588, issued in 1981.

This is necessary because this legislation is what prevents the Refinery import or work with substances other than hydrocarbons.

The minister made it clear that approves the proposals presented at the Congress benches of the National Liberation Party (PLN) and the Frente Amplio (FA). These seek to change the law and allow Recope develop clean energy projects.

The intent of giving more power to the entity gained currency after its executives decided curb their contribution to the project hydrogen engine, powered by the firm Ad Astra and led by scientist Franklin Chang.

This then, as we questioned the Comptroller General of the Republic and confirmed the Attorney General, the Refinery has no such competition.

Dialogues. The minister spoke about Recope shortly after participating in the opening of the roundtable on transportation and fuel, which would serve as an input for the VII National Energy Plan.

According to the criteria of Gutierrez and Carlos Segnini, Minister of Transport, the country should strive to renew its fleet and improve working conditions and the attractiveness of public transport.

They added that fuel quality matters Recope is already "excellent".

Fernando Llorca, acting minister of Health, said that the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) air quality deteriorates and is a critical threat, in terms of public health.

This roundtable that drives Minae consists of eight sessions (one per week) and include the lines: clean transport and energy efficiency, alternative fuels and energy.

"There are about 40 or 50 people that have been recorded so far in this new table. What we want is that stakeholders contribute in developing the plan and consider their concerns, "Gutierrez said.

This is the second attempt to involve Minae sectors in a national discussion. The first, in which he spoke about the future of the matrix and the energy system, was made last year and, according to Gutierrez, was successful.

The draft of these first results would be ready next week, and national policy before December.

The chief of Environment said that the country's promise of achieving carbon neutrality by 2021 is maintained, but acknowledged that the main challenge is that 67% of greenhouse gases are generated by the transport sector.

Source: 'La Nación'


ARESEP requires ICE to sell energy in region

April 09th,2015

ARESEP requires the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) sell their surplus energy to the Regional Electricity Market (MER), from this month until December 2016.

According to the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (Aresep), the preparation of a plan to place these -generated surplus, especially with plants hidroeléctricas- lead to cheaper electricity rates in the country.

In the first quarter, the Arenal reservoir reached a level higher than projected five meters (it was two meters from its peak). According to the Administration of Energy ARESEP, this could force the ICE, otherwise exported, to make or waste dumping in 2016, when operating Reventazón hydroelectric plant.

"The possibility that Costa Rica depends benefit, in essence, the ability of ICE to use wisely the different mechanisms offered by the MER to import when it is cheaper and exporting whenever possible", reported the regulatory body .

The Nation him Institute spokesmen consulted its position, but at press time no answer.

During 2014, Costa Rica received $ 3.6 million from the export of energy.

Between 2013 and 2014, energy imports increased by 310% (so that it was possible to cover up to 8% of domestic demand), while exports increased 246%.

Both transactions generated the country a savings of $ 44.4 million in 2014, representing 21% of total expenditure on fuels for thermal production.

Source: "La Nación"

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