The Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) approved a 3.7 percent increase in electricity rates requested by the Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE). The new rate was published in the government’s official newspaper La Gaceta on Thursday.
The increase will apply to both residential homes and businesses beginning in October, according the publication.
The rate hike came despite promises made by President Luis Guillermo Solís in July to not raise utility rates for 18 months. ICE’s Executive President Carlos Obregón said Thursday that their adjustment request to ARESEP is necessary to cover energy import costs this year in the Regional Electricity Market. Those costs total $58.9 million.
The rate increase upset various sectors in the country, which criticized ICE for promising price stability in July.
The Costa Rican Chamber of Industries (CICR) on Thursday evening said in a statement that “high energy costs are the main cause for the sector’s loss of competitiveness that in the past 19 months has cost some 6,000 jobs.”
“Electricity rates so far this year have increased by 20 percent and now we must add this new hike, which will have another big impact on the business sector’s competitiveness, and that will affect the generation of new jobs,” said CICR President Enrique Egloff.
ARESEP also said it is evaluating a reduction in electricity rates that could be approved, pending the results of a calculation that takes into account the costs for purchasing oil for electricity generation. The calculation is done every three months.
ARESEP spokeswoman Carolina Mora said both the higher ICE rates and the lowered ARESEP rates likely would take effect at the beginning October, so the changes couch cancel each other out.