San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nationwide Blackout, Rationing Left Country in The Dark

A spike in demand, an unusually parched dry season, and inefficiencies in the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) resulted in a nationwide blackout and emergency rationing that shook the nation in April.


The unplanned nationwide blackout and subsequent scheduled outages were the first in five years, prompting administration officials to talk about an energy crisis.


The outages also sparked widespread debate about whether the government should open the doors for increased private participation in the electricity sector, a government-run monopoly.


ICE, which oversees production and distribution of 80% of the country’s electricity, announced Costa Rica would need an additional 200 megawatts of capacity, or about a 10% increase, to meet electricity demand by 2008.


The Arias administration’s solution was to expedite construction of new thermal plants.


ICE, one of the government’s biggest bureaucracies, began its own energyrationing plan in July.


That same month, ICE head Pedro Pablo Quirós promised there wouldn’t be any rationing in 2008.


He said ICE would rely on more thermal energy and rented generators to get hydroelectric-dependent Costa Rica through the dry season.





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