BAGUIO CITY – More than P126 million in foregone revenues was lost by the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) over the past four months following the implementation of the different types of community quarantine to combat the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Baguio and Benguet.
BENECO General Manager Engr. Melchor S. Licoben reported the foregone revenues represent the estimated 19 percent decline in the sales of the electric cooperative at the time when sales are expected to be at its peak because of the summer and school vacation.
He explained that in terms of the distribution, supply and metering (DSM) charge that is being left with the electric cooperative to sustain its operation, BENECO lost an estimated P7.2 million monthly or close to P30 million during the past four months that the community quarantine has been in effect.
Licoben pointed out that BENECO officials are keeping their fingers crossed that the national and local economy will bounce back the soonest with an expected improvement in the cooperative’s sales to help sustain its operation and fund the implementation of their suspended projects, such as the construction of its P20 million extension building along South Drive and its P40 million warehouse, training center and gymnasium project at Longlong, Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet.
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The BENECO official narrated that in his three years with the electric cooperative, there were several instances where there had been a slump in its sales, particularly during the 2005 meningococcemia scare and the 1990 killer earthquake.
However, he disclosed during the meningococcemia scare, it took only two months before the economy started to recover while during the July 1990 killer earthquake, it took 4 years before BENECO realized the sudden surge of its sales because of the improving local economy then.
According to him, BENECO recently implemented required austerity measures to sustain its operation even with the significant decline in its monthly sales primarily because the tourism-related establishments and other big loaders, such as schools, remain to be closed.
He argued that despite the effect of the pandemic to BENECO’s financial position, it was still able to implement the Pantawid Liwanag corporate social responsibility program that benefited over 170,000 member-consumer-owners during the early stages of the community quarantine where consumers having a monthly consumption of 30 kilowatt-hours and below were not charged of their consumption for April, consumers who had a monthly consumption of 31-101 kilowatt-hours were given a discount of P100 for their April power bills while consumers who had a monthly consumption of 101-200 kilowatt-hours got a similar discount in their May power bill.
Licoben claimed that even power generators and the transmission company were compelled by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to impose deferred payments on bills that are due as part of the assistance extended to the people who were impacted by the heavy impact of the community quarantine to their employment and sources of livelihood.
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