BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) turned over to the Benguet provincial government and the thirteen municipalities the repair and maintenance of streetlights within their areas of jurisdiction effective April 26, 2019 after it made the same to the Baguio City government a few months ago.
In his letter to Benguet Gov. Crescencio C. Pacalso and the 13 municipal mayors, BENECO assistant general manager Engr. Melchor Licoben said that apart from turning over the repair and maintenance of the streetlights to the concerned local governments, the electric cooperative will also reduce the billing hours of the existing streetlights from 12 to 10 hours.
He underscored that it will now be the responsibility of local governments to handle the repairs and replacements of busted streetlights considering the turnover.
“We are constrained to effect this move because the cost, time and manpower we have spent for many years attending to concerns on streetlights for Benguet and Baguio city have translated to lesser accomplishment in the more important area of improving efficiency, reliability and quality of our service,” Licoben stressed.
The BENECO official explained that it is only the remaining electric cooperative in the country that absorbs the cost of maintaining streetlights of its local government units since the task of maintaining streetlights is the fundamental responsibility of LGUs in as much as the status of peace and order is directly related to the condition and performance of streetlights.
According to him, the business of the retail of electricity has grown leaps and bounds and has become technically very challenging as the cooperative’s linemen must always be ready for dispatch for line repair, pole and transformer replacement, power restoration, and the like.
Unfortunately, Licoben pointed out that a substantial portion of their crews’ working hours are being consumed by attending to requests for streetlights repair.
He emphasized the cost of streetlight maintenance is another problem as for the last six years alone, BENECO has spent P13.6 million on streetlights maintenance in the province and the same bites a lot of the cooperative’s meagre income for such purpose.
Licoben asserted that BENECO can continue to maintain the billing of the streetlights at 12 burning hours and it will continue its maintenance work on the streetlights but the total cost of repair and maintenance will be for the account of all the concerned LGUs.
While BENECO and the local governments have a contract, the BENECO assistant general manager stated that it is has become onerous and grossly disadvantageous to the electric cooperative.
He claimed that BENECO decided to terminate the agreement to give the cooperative more time for other more important concerns to further improve systems efficiency and provide better quality service for all its consumers who need the reliability of the system and quality power delivered in their residences and establishments around their franchise area.