Does Costa Rica Have the Highest Electricity Rates in the World?

One grumbling commonly expressed by North American expats residing in Costa Rica is related to their monthly electricity bills. Not only do they assert that they pay more in Costa Rica than they used to pay in Loafers Glory, North Carolina or in Dildo Harbour Newfoundland; they also assume that their new monthly bill has to be the most expensive in the world.

The dubious reasoning that accompanies this expat nagging usually goes along the lines of “Why should I pay so much in a Third World country that mostly gets its electricity from renewable sources?” In extreme cases, some expats believe they fall victim to “gringo pricing” in Costa Rica, whereby they believe that the local utility knows that they are foreigners and therefore are being charged more than their neighbors. Such complaints often come from expats who also believe that Costa Rica is the most expensive country in the world.

A 2014 survey of international electricity rates compiled by World Atlas does not list Costa Rica as the most expensive in terms of electricity costs. That would be Italy, which is probably why you never hear Italian expats complain about their monthly energy bills in Costa Rica; in fact, they barely complain about anything else. Interestingly, Costa Rica and Italy share a couple of electricity production aspects in common: no nuclear plants due to high seismicity and lots of hydroelectric generation thanks to abundant rivers.