President-elect Laura Chinchilla gave a clear sign on Tuesday that energy and electricity will be the priority of the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET) during her administration.
Set to take office in fewer than two months, Chinchilla announced on Tuesday that Teófilo de la Torre, 72, will be her environment minister.
De la Torre, a civil engineer by trade, is a three-time former executive president of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) and was president of the board of directors of the National Light and Power Company (CNFL). He was also a member of the National Oil Refinery´s (RECOPE) board of directors. In the early 1990s, he served as vice minister of the then Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines.
He takes control of the post at a time when the government electricity monopoly has struggled to meet rising demand for energy from renewable energy sources, a stated goal of the upcoming Chinchilla administration.
Last year, MINAET presented a bill to the legislative assembly that would allow private energy generators to produce a larger portion of the country´s power. Current laws prevent private generators from collectively producing more than 15 percent of the nation´s energy.
Assuring that the new bill becomes law will be among De la Torre´s main tasks.
“The greatest emphasis of this position will be on energy,” Chinchilla said. “Channeling investments from the private sector is essential to meet our future energy demands.”
Chinchilla also announced on Tuesday that she will introduce a bill that would remove the telecommunications responsibilities from MINAET and transfer them to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MICIT).
Clotilde Fonseca, 60, a former member of MICIT´s Advisory Council, will head that ministry.
ICE will be in the hands of Eduardo Doryan, 59, who will assume the post of executive president. Doryan has served as executive president of the Costa Rican Social Security System in the Arias administration as well as Public Education Minister under President José María Figueres.
Jorge Enrique Villalobos, 66, will become the executive president of RECOPE, where he has worked as a general manager and a director of planning and development.
The youngest of Tuesday´s appointments is 37-year-old Laura Alfaro, who will be in charge of the Planning Ministry. Alfaro has never served in a Costa Rican public office. She holds graduate and post-graduate degrees in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and is an associate professor at the Harvard School of Business.