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BAGUIO CITY –The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) revealed some four hundred eleven sitios within its franchise area in Benguet remain unenergized primarily because of the rapid growth in population and the insufficient funds allocated by concerned government agencies for the implementation of the Sitio Energization Program (SEP).
Engr. MelchorLicoben, manager of BENECO’s Network Services Department, said there are some 2,679 sitios that were validated by the cooperative while there were some 2,268 sitios that were already energized over the past several years through the government’s aggressive implementation of the rural electrification program bringing power to non-viable areas in the countryside.
“We will continue to work on available budgets earmarked for the energization of sitios in the different parts of Benguet which are part of the cooperative’s franchise area. The population of sitios usually increase and will lead to the creation of sub-sitios that is why there are sitios that will always emerge while we pursue the electrification of unenergized communities,” Licoben stressed.
The BENECO official claimed more than P171 million is needed by the cooperative to fully energize the 404 sitios that were already validated while the 7 remaining sitios will still be subject to inspection and the preparation of the project estimates to bring power to the increasing number of residents in the said areas.
It will be recalled that BENECO obtained a P100 million loan from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for the energization of some 132 sitios in the different parts of the province in 2006 way beyond the time when the government implemented the SEP in 2011 for free.
According to Licoben, BENECO is the pioneer in the implementation of rural electrification among the 119 electric cooperatives in the country because it is the only cooperative that obtained a multi-million loan purposely to energize even non-viable areas within its franchise area.
He noted that it was only in 2011 when the government ventured in bankrolling the implementation of the sitio electrification program and almost all rural electric cooperatives availed of the funds purposely to energize the unenergized sitios in their franchise areas.
One of the problems encountered by BENECO personnel and contractors in the energization of sitios in the province is that when the sitios were surveyed, there were only a few households but when the put up of poles started, there were new constructed structures in the village that will again require the installation of more electric poles and power lines.
Licoben expressed optimism that BENECO will be able to energize the unenergized areas during the present administration because no less than President Rodrigo Duterte committed to pursuing the implementation of the energization of sitios around the country to help spur rural development as electricity is one of the basic services that must be provided and made available to them.