1-MW Beneco solar farm operational by December 2021

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TUBA, Benguet – A 1-megawatt solar farm will be constructed in Barangay Tabaan Sur here to maximize the potentials of solar power in providing significant renewable energy to the grid in the future.

Engr. Melchor S. Licoben, General Manager of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO), stated that the bidding process for the put up of the solar power farm is currently being undertaken by the National Power Corporation (NPC) for completion by June.

He added that the construction of the solar power farm will be scheduled from July to December and that the same is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.

Earlier, BENECO was among the 7 electric cooperatives in the country shortlisted by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to be qualified to receive a grant from the World Bank (WB) for the put up of solar farms to help in independently tapping available sources of renewable energy within their franchise area to continue providing cheaper power rates to the increasing number of member-consumer-owners (MCOs).

The BENECO general manager explained that the Renewable Network Solar (RNS) Project pertains to a 70 percent–30 percent grant-equity funding to embedded solar farms ranging from 1 megawatt to 1.5-megawatt capacity with the participating ECs borrowing for their equity from the NEA’s renewable energy loan window.

Under the terms and conditions of the grant, Licoben explained that selected ECs will receive $1 million subsidy for capital cost buy-down while the ECs will put up not more than 30 percent of the cost, inclusive of pre-development and cost of land.

Further, he claimed the total value of investment, specifically grant plus equity, will total of $10 million while the estimated capacity per plant is $1 million per 1 megawatt.

ECs are mandated to prepare and submit their project proposals, project design; conduct distribution impact study and distribution asset study; conduct pre-development activities; submit applications for solar energy service contract at the DOE; apply for capital expenditure loan with NEA or interested commercial bank; supervise project implementation; facilitate the release of equity to winning energy power consumer contract and secure the necessary permits, endorsements and secure consent of the indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities.

On the part of the government, it shall prepare requests for proposals, secure no objection letter from the WB for the bidding documents with terms of reference and technical specifications; initiate bidding process for contracts; evaluate proposals and issue approvals and coordinate with the procurement committee and act as head of procurement committee where participating ECs will sit as members.

The DOE is tasked to supervise the overall implementation of the RNS project and achievement milestones; review application for Solar Energy Service Contract (SESC) and declaration of commerciality; issue SESC and certificate of confirmation of commerciality; validate reports of successful commissioning; issue certificate of endorsement and sit as member of the procurement committee while the NEA is empowered to review and approve EC application for project financing and sit as member of the procurement committee. By HENT

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