UPDATE 9/24/2015: On September 15, 2015 MINAE signed their draft of the new rules to govern nation-wide net metering. These rules should be published this week in La Gazetta and they presumably have already been passed on to ARESEP for further clarification of the fees and methodology. The bureaucrats have assured the public that the details will be finalized sometime during December, 2015. We all wait hesitantly to see if they can do their jobs and live up to that promise.
In 2014 a new law was passed to require that all cooperative providers of electricity offer net metering, just as ICE had since late 2010. Despite delays and debates over the way net metering should be made available, the law is currently being finalized and the program should be available from ALL providers within a few months. Now is the time to order your solar energy system from Pura Vida Energy Systems!!
Just a few years ago Costa Rica was able to boast that it produced 100% of its electricity without fossil fuels. For the last few years, that has no longer been true. An average of about 8% of the electricity consumed in Costa Rica during the last five years has been generated by burning oil purchased from other countries. The future demands for electricity are expected to require that up to 28% of our electricity will be produced by burning oil, which will inevitably lead to even higher prices for that electricity.
In 2010 an effort was made to embrace distributed production of renewable energy for the first time in Costa Rica. Certified and registered companies that hold renewable energy importation and fabrication licenses are rewarded with the exoneration of all import tariffs on renewable energy products and removal of sales tax from the purchase or sale of complete renewable energy systems. This means that you can now purchase a professionally engineered and installed system from Pura Vida Energy Systems for less than it would cost to import the equipment and do it yourself. Implementation of the ICE net-metering program and revision of the General Electricity Law will soon guarantee that every consumer of electricity in Costa Rica has the right to produce renewable energy and to supply that energy back to the country’s distribution system. These are enormous changes, which together make small-scale renewable energy generation not only permissible but cost-effective and accessible to many of the country’s inhabitants.
Net metering is the cornerstone of small-scale distributed energy production systems. Simply put, it requires an electric meter which is capable of spinning backwards when the energy produced in your home is greater than the energy consumed by your home at any given moment. In fact, old-fashioned meters have always had this ability, but it couldn’t be done without permission from the government-run utility company to connect your generation system to their distribution system. The beauty of this simple change is that soon anyone will be able produce solar power while the sun is shining or wind power when the wind is blowing and “store” excess energy in the form of credits which can then be consumed when the sun sets or the wind stops blowing. It is a profound change in the feasibility of producing your own electricity, which when combined with the removal of tariffs and sales taxes allows an investment in a renewable energy production system to pay for itself in less than 5 years. Formerly the return on investment for such systems would have been about 25 years. The result for consumers is that once the initial expense has been recouped, the electricity produced represents dollars saved on each monthly electric bill for the life of the system. High quality solar systems are guaranteed to produce at least 95% of their original capacity for the first 15 years and 80% of their original capacity for 10 more years, with slowly diminishing production for even more years after that.