The Costa Rican Chamber of Industries (CICR) on Thursday blasted a new 3.7 percent increase in electricity rates requested by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE). Chamber leaders urged the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) to reject the request, noting that ICE in July promised to cut spending and stabilize its finances in order to prevent electricity rate hikes for the next year and a half.
CICR Vice President Ricardo Solera said chamber members are concerned about the number of companies that recently have closed operations in the country. Many of those companies have publicly said that electricity rates are the main factor affecting the country’s competitiveness. Solera added that from January 2013 to July 2014 the country’s industrial sector has eliminated 6,366 jobs.
“It is imperative for ARESEP to carefully analyze the magnitude of recent electricity rate increases and the consequences of the drop in competitiveness. … Electricity has a direct impact on production,” Solera stated in a press release.
ICE Executive President Carlos Obregón in July downplayed the effect the proposed hikes would have on customers.
Solera, however, accused ICE of lacking transparency in its request to ARESEP. He said the request contained only partial information regarding the agency’s revenue, expenses and sales forecasts. He noted that ICE rates have increased by 20 percent this year.
“The industrial sector is deeply concerned, as we are responsible for 23 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, 16 percent of private-sector employment and 75 percent of exports. Yet we consume only 24 percent of the electricity available within the national power grid,” CICR stated.