SNAPSHOT Elections in Costa Rica, El Salvador - the energy angle

By
Monday, February 3, 2014

Front runners in Sunday's presidential elections in Costa Rica and El Salvador failed to garner enough votes to proclaim victory with second rounds scheduled for April 6 and March 9, respectively.

The runoff in Costa Rica will be disputed by Luis Solís of center left party Partido Acción Ciudadana who picked up 31% of votes and Johnny Araya of ruling center left party Liberación Nacional with 29.6%.

Ballotage in El Salvador will be contested by Salvador Cerén of center left ruling party FMLN who picked up 48.9% of votes and Norman Quijano of center right party ARENA with 39%.

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The candidates have pledged to continue energy diversification with renewed impetus to advance incorporation of renewable energies and alternative fuels. Some, however, are more inclined to greater sector oversight and others keener to increasing private sector participation.

In the following breakdown, BNamericas highlights proposals contained in the potential future presidents' government plans.

COSTA RICA

Luis Solís

- Develop and execute a voluntary plan of distributed generation and self-power supply and related regulatory framework

- Update the energy efficiency standard and make it mandatory

- Promote traditional and non-conventional renewable energies including biomass

- Reduce electricity rates through the revision of financial conditions for loans held by state power company ICE, modification of rates calculation by public services regulator Aresep and improve efficiency at state generators

- Analyze the possibility of reducing taxes on fuels used for power generation to improve competitiveness of electricity rates

- Promote the alternative use of fuels such as LPG and biodiesel

Johnny Araya

- Allow ICE and state refiner Recope to tap natural gas use for power generation and transport

- Expand private participation and promote strategic alliances between public and private entities to introduce new generation options

- Restructure ICE financing models to reduce impact on rates

- Promote hydro project Diquís, geothermal outside national parks, a solar park of at least 100MW by CNFL and a waste to energy project by municipalities association Femetrom

- Promote electric-powered public transport and biofuels

- Introduce regulatory improvements for increased operative efficiency in the power and fuel sectors

EL SALVADOR

Salvador Cerén

- Promote a public and private investment program in projects that optimize and diversify the country's energy potential: geothermal, wind, solar and biomass

- Implement a national public, private and citizen energy savings and efficiency program

- Modify the power framework law to strengthen regulator Siget in particular to secure medium and long term low cost power, and review rates

- Begin non-invasive exploration to detect possible oil and gas deposits

- Maintain natural gas subsidies for needy families

- Join the Petrocaribe oil alliance, led by Venezuela

Norman Quijano

- Create an energy department within the economy ministry to implement and monitor policy execution

- Strengthen Siget oversee and eliminate competition barriers

- Give greater autonomy to power market administrator Unidad de Transacciones

- Expand and diversify renewable energies with incentives for new biomass, solar and wind projects among others

- Continue the 80MW expansion for hydro 5 de Noviembre, construction of 66MW hydro Chaparral and complete studies for hydros El Cimarrón (261MW), El Jobo (60MW) and Piedra de Toro (50MW).

- Promote long term power supply contracts through tenders

- Expand transmission infrastructure and improve conditions and connectivity with the regional power market

- Strengthen electricity coverage in particular to isolated communities

- Promote energy efficiency and savings including financial mechanisms to advance adoption of new technologies

- Promote availability of cleaner and more competitive fuels such as LNG, ethanol and biodiesel