ICE would resume for one month its pilot plan for solar generation

Environment Minister asked to the ARESEP contribute to this initiative

March 14th,2015

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) is willing to return for a month pilot plan for solar generation.

This initiative was born in 2010 and allowed the injection of 10 megawatts (MW) solar power to the electrical system, by providing 366 subscribers. The option of installing new panels, however, lapsed in time and power on February 6.

Then, Luis Pacheco, manager of the ICE, made clear that this project would not extend as this had already met its objectives and followed the analysis phase results.

Now, however, the president of the Institute, Carlos Obregón, changed the discourse of the entity and indicated their willingness to continue the initiative.

"ICE is in the best position to develop a program that is a continuation of the pilot project, as long as current legislation permits" admitted the chief to the Nation.

What is the condition? For the ICE expand the plan requires that the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (Aresep) suspend Chapter 12 of Regulation Poasen (Planning, Operation and access to the national grid), which regulates the distributed generation (solar energy into account).

Such regulations issued ARESEP forces the ICE and stakeholders to follow certain rules, for the moment, are impossible to meet.

These requirements for small generators, is the permit or concession granted by the Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae) to connect to the network. The regulations to give these guarantees does not yet exist; will be ready by April 15.

You also need to define ARESEP interconnection rates and access to the system, which will be set in mid-April, with a specific methodology.

Once that is in tune, ICE's plan would become meaningless, because there will be more rigorous official rules allowing new connections in the network. That's why, extending the plan, the Institute would do it for one month.

The trigger. The decision to freeze or not the chapter was left Poasen ARESEP last Monday, when, by letter, the chief of Minae, Edgar Gutiérrez, urged the overall regulatory, Dennis Melendez, to suspend it.

According to the request of the minister, the suspension would remain until outstanding issues are clarified in the Minae and ARESEP.

"The spirit is that ICE can continue its pilot and other distributors can be encouraged to do one, between now and April 15 (...). ICE wants to; if you can follow, follow. What was there was a regulatory impediment, "said Gutierrez.

The Board of the Regulatory Authority still evaluating whether it will abide by the order of Minae.

Confusion. The termination of the pilot scheme ICE generated confusion and criticism within the renewable energy sector, because since then the option to install new solar panels on the network was buried.

Jorge Blanco, the Costa Rican Association of Solar Energy (Acesolar) considered very successful minister's request ARESEP and ICE think you need to expand the conditions that prevailed during the pilot.

"When you have a clear rule will make no sense a pilot plan. How useful is a bridge between the current situation and the future, continue to allow what was allowed by the pilot, "said the businessman.

Source: 'La Nación'



Minae will clarify energy course in March

In April 15 starts dialogue on future of transport and hydrocarbons

February 28th, 2015.

The energy direction of Costa Rica will be known in March with the publication of the first draft of the VII National Energy Plan by the Minae.

From this month, the country will know what to expect in the next 35 years in terms of energy efficiency, distributed generation, optimization of sources and socio-environmental safeguards.

This was confirmed yesterday Edgar Gutierrez, senior Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae), who said that many of the decisions taken there will be implemented from next month: you must not wait for the publication of the plan in September.

The draft is based on the results tables National Dialogue on Energy, led by Environment, which took place between late October and December.

There they brought their positions, for example, the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (Aresep), the Costa Rican Association of Power Producers (ACOP) and the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE).

Why? The board came to the urgency of Minae to achieve consensus in the sector. The energy debate took special importance when the country started looking how to lower high electricity rates and include more and different clean sources in the matrix.

The electricity cost is the main factors that make the industry less competitive in Costa Rica, has even led companies to close doors.

Out of respect for dialogue, Gutierrez asked the entities related curb their decisions on energy, and the deputies not to pursue any bill concerning exploitation of sources or private participation.

But in the process two crucial decisions were taken: the president Luis Guillermo Solís defined that will not allow geothermal exploitation in national parks, and Carlos Obregon, head of ICE, decided that it is not necessary to raise the allowed private generators stop.

The second chapter of the National Energy Plan will dictate the direction of transport and fuel. The dialogue that serve as input start on April 15.

Source: 'La Nación'



Closing a successful project

The electric generation pilot plan with solar panels reached the maximum power (10 MW) with the participation of 366 small producers

At this time, new projects can only generate for self-sufficiency, without possibility of connection to the national grid and, much less, to sell surplus

February 25th,2015

In just over four years, the pilot solar power generation plan established reached the maximum power (10 MW) with the participation of 366 small producers connected to the distribution network of the national grid. It is totally clean energy, generated no greater state investment and with very competitive costs, but the development of the system is in doubt now that passed within the pilot and limits stipulated generation reached.

The future depends on design methodologies and tariffs which is run by the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (Aresep). The Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae), meanwhile, should clarify the conditions for granting future permits small-scale generation.

These permits and the pilot plan in force until now allow network connection for self-consumption. If the generator does not want to connect to the network, you can install generating capacity needed for consumption unprocessed permission. The difference is that the generator connected to the network does not need to invest in storage. Production injected into the national system and then takes he needs. So have backup power even though the sun is missing. If you consume more than they produce, pay the difference, but if produced in excess, does not receive any compensation.

The system, as is evident, is not designed to stimulate the generation beyond the specific needs of the producer. In the absence of the ability to connect to the network, also serves to encourage self-sufficiency, because the investment to store energy is high and the risk of not having electricity in some sunny days is great.

To sell excess power to the national grid is required Minae concession, not a single permit, but that proceeding resort is not available to potential interested in producing energy on a small scale. The other sector of private generators is also surrounded by limitations and procedures, as well as those aspiring to develop large projects in energy production. Again, it is clear that no matter the commitment of generating clean energy nor costs. Import keep the market closed, even against tiny competitors, such as the pilot.

At this time, new projects can only generate for self-sufficiency, without possibility of connection to the national grid and, much less, to sell the surplus. If ARESEP meet the promised deadline and Minae clarifies how to handle connection permissions, development activity can be resumed in about two months, but stakeholders doubt so quickly. When everything is ready, it will not be possible, however, sell surplus than the existence of a concession.

Moreover, the operation does not retain the characteristics of the pilot of the ICE. ARESEP set a connection fee to the national grid. The measure is justified by the investment in the network and the need for servicing, but if the cost is too high, it will not be worth installing panels for self-sufficiency and the country will lose opportunities for clean energy generation, such as a production farm pigs and tilapia in Chomes, Puntarenas, whose owner thought necessary investments to achieve carbon neutrality in its operations.

So many limitations, care and barriers lead to an outside observer to believe that we live in a country without exploiting new clean energy sources, but not far from Chomes, emissions of gases in the plant Garabito tell the real story, not mention the printed testimony on bills.

Source: "La Nación"



Increase in electricity come to 700,000 subscribers of ICE

ARESEP approved an increase of 8.14 ¢ per kWh, which governed for a month

Coopesantos and ESPH are others who requested adjustments to 110,000 customer

February 20th,2015

About 700,000 subscribers ICE feel a blow in his pocket, because the coming week with a rise of 9% on their electric bills.

Thereafter, a family that consumes on average 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month must pay additional ¢ 1,628. Your receipt will increase from ¢ 16,600 to ¢ 18,228, for every kWh 8.14 ¢ be more expensive than today.

This adjustment was approved yesterday by the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (Aresep) and governed from its publication in the Official Gazette, next week.

The electricity tariff Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) and other distribution consists of two items: one responds to operating and maintenance costs; the second, to expenses for purchase of fuel for power generation (variable cost of fuel, CVC).

Although ARESEP said the increase will be 11% for the ICE, that percentage will only apply to the component of operating costs and maintenance.

So in this case, the final amount to be paid by customers vary only 9%.

Lower. In July, the chief executive of ICE, Carlos Obregón, and the president Luis Guillermo Solis, promised that electricity rates would remain stable for 18 months, so that would not happen kWh 91 ¢.

With the rise approved yesterday, the kWh went from 83 ¢ to ¢ 91.14.

And that the adjustment of 11% on operating costs was not intended by the ICE, the previous October 10 ARESEP negotiated with 13.2% over that component , considering that probably the CVC rather suffer any rebate.

This item CVC will automatically from 1 April increase and to calculate it, ARESEP will consider how he spent the ICE on fuel imports during the previous three months.

Carolina Mora, spokeswoman Regulatory, agreed that the climatic conditions and the non-use of bunker for thermal generation will likely lead to a decrease in CVC and therefore a low tariff from its application in April.

Industrialists are the ones who have insisted warn about the high cost of electricity, because it is a major factor, say, forcing closures and uncompetitive.

Enrique Egloff, president of the Chamber of Industries, described as "disproportionate" the petition of 13.2% of ICE and criticized the entity had extra winnings in 2014 and, therefore, rather should reduce charges.

More Increases. The increase in light also affect the subscribers of the Public Service Company of Heredia (ESPH).

The company requested an increase of 9.41% for its 70,000 customers, so that the average family (which consumes 200 kWh per month) will pay ¢ 1,000 more, your receipt will increase from ¢ 11,600 to ¢ 12,600.

The request contained 4.8% more to cover energy purchases ICE (between October 2014 and December 2015) and 4.5% for own costs.

"There is a pending backlog because we ICE increased prices, and own expenses (...) It is important to note that for 2016 a reduction of 2.42% on the proposed rates for 2015 seeks" said Francisco Angulo spokesman ESPH. The ESPH request was submitted to a public hearing two days ago, so the new prices governed since April.

Coopesantos is another utility that handles an adjustment to ARESEP. Where appropriate, those affected would be about 40,000 customers in nine cantons: The Guarco, Cartago, Dota, Tarrazú, León Cortés, Acosta, Homeless, Aserrí and Mora.

The increase would be 7.66%, but would apply only about 35% of the rate corresponding to energy purchases to ICE. In this case, a household with average consumption would cancel ¢ 16,000, about ¢ 17,226.

Coopesantos generates 31% of its power from hydroelectric plants (by the consortium Coneléctricas), and another 34% is produced in the Wind Park Los Santos. "The generate own sources allows us to be more independent and not have to transfer both CVC consumers," said Juan Castro, office communication.

"This increase is to compensate those who applied ICE us since September 2014 and have not yet been transferred to partners because ARESEP had not approved it," said Castro.

The claim of this cooperative will have the sitting on 11 March to govern in April.

In the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz (CNFL), its 520,000 subscribers just suffered a rise in the receipt, after the January 14 ARESEP approve an increase of 6.6%.

Source:"La Nación"






Distributed Generation: Customers of ICE pilot will continue connected 15 years

February 19th,2015

• Project to encourage the installation up to 366 generators

• Initiative achieved its goals in January

• Despite the success, ICE may not extend plan regulations

• New facilities shall be governed by regulations ARESEP

The Pilot Plan for Electricity Generation Distributed Autoconsumo promoted by the ICE from October 2010 to February 2015, up to 366 clients holders of small power generation systems that will total more than 10 megawatts (MW) of power.

In the beginning, this initiative was promoted as a pilot program aimed to encourage customers to install their own generation connected to the networks of ICE, with the dual purpose of familiarizing the country with new technologies and to evaluate the effect of them on power grids.

"ICE did the job to stimulate, educate and create conditions for distributed generation," said Javier Orozco, head of Process System Expansion ICE.

The pilot phase came to an end for receipt of requests on 6 February, when it reached the goal of rated power of 10 megawatts (MW).

Orozco said that "customers participating in the Pilot Plan signed a contract with ICE connection in which the company is committed to maintaining the conditions for a period of fifteen years."

The pilot can not be expanded because from April 2014 there is a new regulation of distributed generation, issued by the ARESEP, which is mandatory for compliance ICE.

New interested in installing additional equipment for power generation consumption may do so by following the rules is preparing ARESEP.

In assessing the project, Jesús Sánchez, director of Business Marketing Distribution and electricity sectors ICE said, "We are very pleased that the technological development of such systems to small-scale generation using renewable sources, makes it likely that a future a significant part of the electricity needs can be met by such equipment cheaply ".

The Pilot Plan began in October 2010 with a goal of 5 MW, but due to the great success, in 2012 the deadline was extended until 2015 and the maximum power range widened to 10 MW.

Sanchez added that the Plan was a very successful program because many of the customers were interested in participating, installation companies reached a maturity and technical capacity and national banks offer special credit lines green.



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