Arenal Report

October 8, 2010

Thanks to the administration of President Laura Chinchilla and a helpful attitude on the part of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), Lake Arenal may become notable for windmillers as well as windsurfers. Terms like “net metering” and “green mortgage” will become familiar while home-owners and businesses produce their own electrical energy at greatly reduced start-up costs. What the president and Environment Minister Teófilo de la Torre have helped bring about is, for one thing, the elimination of all import duties and taxes – including the 13 percent sales tax – on renewable energy products. Thus wind turbine equipment and solar panels, etc., can be bought for a fraction of previous costs; wind turbines now cost as little as $8,500. To help with these still significant amounts, the government is starting a “green mortgage” program, financing wind turbine installations – possibly solar, too – through Banco Nacional at “preferential” rates.

The oft-criticized ICE has now transmogrified into a beneficent soul that will enable “net metering.” Homeowners and businesses producing their own electricity – known as “distributed generation” when widespread – will be able to upload their excess electricity to ICE’s grid during windy months and then draw upon their energy credit by downloading electricity during less productive months, if necessary. The credited energy will be available for up to one year. Expensive batteries thus will no longer be needed for electrical storage, unless an electricity addict demands power even when ICE suffers one of its now relatively infrequent blips.

The bearer of this promising news is Jim Ryan of ASI Power and Telemetry of Liberia, capital of the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Jim, who was an adviser to de la Torre during the last election, may be reached by e-mail at jim@asipower.com or by Skype at jim.ryan.asipower.

Wakeboard entrepreneur Sander Werink of FlyZone Watersports Costa Rica is offering meeting services in cooperation with Puerto San Luis Lodge and Yacht Club. As his September newsletter asks, “Looking for something different to do with your colleagues, personnel, friends or family? Together with Hotel Puerto San Luis we can host business events, family days, bachelor parties and any kind of group activity. Combine wakeboarding with kayaking, mountain biking or horseback riding, have a great lunch or dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, do a business presentation at the conference center – everything is possible.” Sander’s website is www.flyzone-cr.com. His phone number is 8339-5876.

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