Authorities may ration electricity this year after the quake knocked out a hydroelectric plant that generated more than 4 percent of the nation’s power supply. The Cariblanco plant on the SarapiquíRiver will be closed for at least six months as crews clean the plant of mud and debris, said Luis Pacheco of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE).
If another plant fails, ICE may have to ration electricity in March or April, when demand from tourism increases and a drop in water levels reduces hydroelectric generation.
While Costa Rica can produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity in rainy months, that figure drops to 1,500 during the dry season. Without Cariblanco’s 82 megawatts, supply comes dangerously close to 1,400. If electricity is not rationed, rates stand to increase because ICE will rely more on thermal energy, which costs five times as much as hydroelectric.
ICE has not yet placed a dollar amount on damage to the $170 million Cariblanco plant.