Although President Luis Guillermo Solís had promised not to use Ticos’ euphoria over Costa Rica’s performance at the World Cup to promote increases in public utility rates, a 5.38 percent hike in electricity went into effect last Tuesday. The good news is that Presidency Minister Melvin Jiménez also announced this week that rates will remain unchanged until Dec. 31, 2015.
That decision was made by the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP), and government officials will use the time to evaluate rates and propose alternatives, which was one of Solís’ promises during his campaign. He repeated similar statements at the start of his administration.
“I am very pleased as even though we were not able to prevent this week’s rate increase, we will keep it unchanged over the next 18 months, allowing businesses and citizens to plan their consumption carefully,” Solís said.
Environment Minister Édgar Gutiérrez thanked ARESEP for the decision, noting that it will extend nearly to the start of operations at the Reventazón Hydroelectric Project, a new $1.4 million hydroelectric plant scheduled for early 2016.
The executive branch also will begin discussions in 2016 on possible alternatives to reduce the cost of electricity in order to fulfill Solís’ promises.
Jiménez also announced the creation of a special commission that will study the issue and propose solutions for reducing electricity and fuel costs for the country.
Solís will announce the members of this commission in late August. But he already has said it would include representatives from social, academic and economic sectors, as well as government agencies linked to public utilities.
The administration’s first steps to lower the cost of electricity generation will be announced later this year, after the commission issues its first report, Jiménez said.