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'



Gilberto de la Cruz: 'We have already incorporated private generation that we need'

June 25th, 2014

Given the unstoppable cost of electricity tariffs, the productive sector and authorities seek ways to stop it. One option being considered is to increase the involvement of private companies in power generation. However, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) shows some reservations.

According to you, the ICE is willing to buy from private generators "all the energy is." Did they give 455 megawatts (MW) by 2017?

Yes, that energy is already being contracted private. By 2017 they will enter three hydroelectric projects (150 MW) which were awarded several years ago, and two wind (100 MW). In late 2012 we did a contest of private generation, where we award 100 MW wind and 30 MW of hydro. On April 21 we received bids for 40 MW wind and 30 MW of hydro.

Do you agree to remove or raise the share cap (it is now 15%) of the private?

That is a political decision of the Legislative Assembly.

Sure, but do you agree?

What I say is that we have already incorporated private generation that we need. In the plan, we have determined that this is what is required in the current percentage. More private generation has to be whether it is economical and whether to incorporate.

To lower the cost of light, ask open industrial sector monopoly and so, ICE ceases to have much control.

That is an issue that has been debated in the country for 20 years and that has not been resolved and that diay, the political sector will have to solve. I am a technician. It is important that you see from other countries have opened their markets. That will teach him.

Have you considered rule and seek alternative plans Diquís hydroelectric project (in the south of the country)?

The idea now is to continue as we are, with many small projects, we do not know whether they will achieve and fossil generation, as we have now.

The Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae) claimed in April that no perceived progress in three years and $ 129 million spent. How much more will give Diquís?

This administration needs to be solved if done or not done. The basic design stage has already been completed and are now doing the environmental impact, but lack the social viability.

The country prefer not to bet both the fall rains, but diversify generation sources.

We found that the most economical and suitable is the leading online Diquís. The route expansion, including this project, seems very appropriate, because it incorporates a source with a major reservoir, which will allow better regulate the climate problem. Not the edge of the water; if it rains a lot, keep it. If the country does not, it will be lost forever.

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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'



Electricity rates could rise to 16% in July

June 13th,2014

An increase of up to 16% in electricity rates could impact the pocket of Costa Rican households from July.

This, if the latest proposal from the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (Aresep) for the third quarter of the year, which seeks to counter the crisis caused by the lack of rain is approved. The request is in the public consultation process.

The amount of the increase would vary by dealer. It would be 16% for customers of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) and 15% for the National Power and Light Company (CNFL). Users of the Administrative Board of Carthage Utility (Jasec) and Public Service Company of Heredia (ESPH) would pay 12% more.

A family receiving the service of ICE and consumes 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) today paid ¢ 17,400 electric bill. If passed fit, should disburse ¢ 20,184 for the same consumption.

To do the math, ARESEP included spending fuels for generation, the difference between actual income and expenditure estimates for the first quarter (¢ 45.6 million) and the tariff lag of 2012, totaling ¢ 11,000 million.

The mayor of Energy ARESEP, Juan Manuel Quesada, said the lack of rain will increase thermal generation between July and September: 128 gigawatt hours will be generated, leading to a cost of ¢ 11,642,000.

During the first quarter, the decline in hydropower production was more drastic than that recorded in the same period of the last nine years. This proposal is given just as the government examines how lower rates.

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"


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