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BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) expressed its support to the planned conduct of public bidding by the local government for the maintenance, operation and upgrading of the city’s streetlights to the so-called smart city lighting project and its potential conversion from the conventional high pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures to the state-of-the-art Light Emitting Diode (LED) fixtures.
In his letter to Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, BENECO General Manager Gerardo P. Verzosa requested the local government to provide the electric cooperative with a copy of the approved terms of reference for the project if the same is readily available for management to evaluate, assess and come out with its final position on the matter.
Further, he added that BENECO will use the available terms of reference in dealing with third parties to have expressed their willingness to partner with the electric cooperative for their joint participation once the city will bid out the said project.
He explained that over the past several months, BENECO has been bombarded with calls and text messages from consumers and barangay officials on matters related to the presence of busted streetlights in their places even if the management and operation of the city’s streetlights was already turned over to the local government as of April last year.
Despite their explanation that the management and operation of the busted streetlights is now with the local government, Verzosa claimed that irate consumers even go to the extent of hurling serious accusations against them, saying that as the electric cooperative operating in the city, it is obliged to ensure that streetlights are appropriately lighted for the safety of the residents and to deter the commission of crimes, especially at night.
The BENECO official stated that the electric cooperative understand the light of the consumers for efficient and effective service in the maintenance and operation of the city’s streetlights as what had been happening when the same was under its care but the problem to date is that the management and operation of the over 8,000 unmetered streetlights is now with the local government.
In 2013, BENECO and the local government entered into an agreement for the former to maintain and operate the city’s unmetered streetlights until such time that the city will be able to convert the existing HPS fixtures to the state-of-the-art LED fixtures and now the so-called Smart City Lighting project.
In early 2019, BENECO notified the local government that it is unilaterally terminating the aforesaid agreement after it reportedly incurred substantial losses that significantly affected its regular operations and the maintenance of its power distribution system wherein the turnover of the management and operation of the city’s streetlights to the city will take effect within 30 days.
Earlier, the local government allocated some P18 million to purchase LED fixtures that will be used to partially replace some 1,000 HPS factures for the realization of the city’s bid to install the smart city lighting to be compatible with its proposed integrated command center.
By DEXTER A. SEE
Photo by Armando M. Bolislis