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Costa Rica to Build 140 Megawatts of Clean Energy by 2015

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, Costa Rica’s state-run utility, will develop 100 megawatts of wind farms and 40 megawatts of small hydroelectric plants through 2015 as the Central American nation seeks to become “carbon neutral.”

Grupo ICE, as the company is known, will auction contracts to supply electricity from the facilities which are expected to cost $350 million, Ulises Zuniga Blanco, an engineer at the San Jose, Costa Rica-based utility’s Investment Strategic Process department, said today in an e-mail.

Costa Rica has committed to cutting its net contribution to global warming to zero in 2021 by matching the amount of greenhouse gases it emits with tree plantings, Blanco said.

“In the case of electricity, the aim is to stop burning petroleum derivatives,” Blanco said. “The projects included in this process will contribute to this objective of carbon neutrality.”

Developers will have until July 27 to propose projects of as much as 20 megawatts once the bid is announced in the nation’s official gazette, he said. The winners will be selected September.

The wind farms are expected to start producing electricity in 2014 and the hydroelectric plants the following year, he said.

Companies must offer to sell power at rates below $117.1 a megawatt hour for the wind farms and $136.3 for the hydroelectric plants, he said. The nation will hold another auction for power contracts in 2013.

Costa Rica produced about 4 percent of its power from wind farms in 2011 and 73 percent from hydroelectric plants, Grupo ICE said in its power-generation expansion plan for the period 2012-24. No new fossil-fuel plants are planned after 2015, according to the plan.

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