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ICE president backtracks after saying electricity rates would increase by more than 13 percent in early 2015

October 8, 2014

The executive president of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), Carlos Obregón, on Wednesday morning said in a press conference the agency would file a request with the Public Services Regulatory Authority for a 13.2 percent increase in electricity rates for the first half of 2015.

Obregón said the request is based on projections for 2015 regarding operating expenses, electricity importation and fuel purchases for thermal generation.

Minutes after Obregón’s statement, President Luis Guillermo Solís reacted surprised and said he was unaware of ICE’s pending announcement.

Last April before taking office, Solís said one of his first actions as president would be to lower public utility rates. In July, he promised that electricity rates would remain unchanged during the next 18 months.

At noon on Wednesday, during a public event at Casa Presidencial, Solís said he would keep his promise not to raise electricity rates before the 18-month period.

The president denied ICE’s announcement was contradictory to his policy plans, calling it a misunderstanding.

“ICE is planning in advance for their expenses and rates, in case they need to use more oil for thermal generation after the 18-month period. But there will not be any increase [in rates],” he said.

“There is no confusion or contradiction between Zapote and Sabana Norte,” Solís said, referring to the San José locations of Casa Presidencial and ICE, respectively. “It was information that was not fully understood.”

Solís even used his Twitter account to ensure that rates would not increase.

“There will not be a change in electricity rates for the 18 months, as we previously stated,” he tweeted.

ICE’s Obregón then told TV Channel 11 that ICE’s request somehow would not affect users: “We foresee that the cost of generation using fossil fuels will reduce, meaning generation using renewable sources will increase. Therefore, we requested a change in the composition of the rates, but this change will not affect rates for our customers.”

Huh?

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