The introduction of electric buses in Costa Rica is to be encouraged with a promotional charging rate set by the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (ARESEP).

The promotional rate of CRC57.08/kWh (US$0.09) will be applicable across the country and must be incorporated in the tariff schedule of all the electricity distribution companies.

The definition of this rate seeks to provide a price signal that encourages the introduction of electric buses and the reduction of emissions, according to a statement.

“This process is part of the efforts carried out by ARESEP to promote electric mobility in public transport and address the challenge of moving towards a renewed, flexible and timely regulation that enables the use of technological changes,” commented Roberto Jiménez, regulator general.

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The rate is set for up to two years, when it will be reviewed taking into account the outcomes of pilot schemes undertaken by the electricity companies and public transport operators.

The first electric buses are due to hit Costa Rica’s roads this month, after training of electricity company employees, drivers and maintenance personnel was started in September.

The first three ebuses from the Chinese manufacturer BYD have been donated by the German development agency GIZ. These will be piloted for one year on three routes initially in the environs of the capital San José and then to the neighbouring cities of Tres Ríos and Alajuela.

The pilot is intended to lead to the development of a framework and a replicable operation model for the electrification of public bus transport in Costa Rica.

Minister of environment and energy, Andrea Meza, has said that these three buses are just the first of the hundreds that will arrive in Costa Rica in the years and decades ahead.

The country’s national decarbonisation plan requires 30% of the public transport fleet to be zero emission by 2035.

The National Electric Transportation Plan 2018-2030 sets out that the construction of the necessary recharging infrastructure be undertaken through strategic alliances between the bus service operators, public companies, municipalities and rural electricity cooperatives across the country.