Forum planned Wednesday to discuss power plant in park

The environment ministry and the power company plan a forum Wednesday to discuss the installation of a geothermic generating facility in a national park.

The project has generated strong opposition. Many sectors of the citizenry have been invited, including students and environmentalists, the national power company said.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad wants to build the project that will use the heat underground to generate power. All of the country’s active volcanos are in national parks, and this project is for Parque Nacional Ricón de la Vieja.

The alternative for geothermal generation would be solar, wind or expensive petroleum-fired systems. The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said that petroleum is five times as expensive as geothermal.

The park is off-limits now to such developments, but there is a proposed law in the legislative hopper that would give the firm permission. The Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía supports the idea, but private environmentalists see the project as the first step in dismantling the country’s national park system.

The power company wants permission to explore 1,000 hectares of park land for adequate heat and then the use of 100 hectares for the plant. A hectare is about 2.47 acres.

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