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Costa Rica to expand private renewable energy markets

June 15, 2012

From the print edition

By Isabella Cota Schwarz |  Special to The Tico Times

Hoping to attract private investment, the state-owned Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) is opening bids for new renewable-energy projects for the first time in 10 years, the organization announced on Tuesday.

At least 10 companies are expected to participate as cogenerators that sell energy to ICE, which will select hydroelectric projects to generate 100 megawatts in total, and wind-power projects to generate 40 MW. Construction of such projects would require an investment of about $350 million.

By law, private companies and cooperatives in Costa Rica are limited to selling no more than 20 MW to ICE, which holds a monopoly on the distribution and administration of electricity in the country. Each contract with the new companies will be for 20 years.

“The 140 megawatts to come out of this competition are enough to supply about 56,000 households in the country, which makes it an important  financial contribution to be rolled out in the next three years,” said the organization’s executive director, Teófilo de la Torre.

The administration’s goal is to have 95 percent of the country’s energy come from renewable sources by 2014.

President Laura Chinchilla said the move would bring the country closer to its carbon-neutral goal and away from using fossil fuels.

“After 10 years of paralyzing opportunities for private companies to cogenerate electricity, we are finally taking this step,” she said on Tuesday.

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