Buguias communities, IPs to get more benefits from hydro

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BUGUIAS, Benguet  – The local government, host communities and indigenous peoples (IPs) hosting the operation of the 3-megawatt Man-asok hydro project of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) stand to gain more benefits compared to the benefits being given by the operator of a minihydro power plant which is five times bigger than the said renewable energy plant here.

Engr. Ricardo S. Pallogan, department manager of BENECO’s power generation and operations division, said the local government, host communities and IPs in the municipality will be receiving additional voluntary benefits amounting to P0.3725 per kilowatt-hour average over the 25-year duration of the operation of the mini-hydro power plant from BENECO which is 577 percent higher compared to the benefits being provided by the operator of a much bigger power plant in the region given to its beneficiaries amounting to P0.0550 per kilowatt-hour.

Pallogan explained the additional voluntary benefits given by BENECO is over and above the mandatory benefits being enjoyed by the local government, host communities and IPs mandated under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples rights Act (IPRA) and Energy Regulations No. 1, series of 1994.

The common benefits granted by power generation companies to the local governments, host communities and IPs hosting the operation of their small or big power plants include local business tax which is 0.375 percent of gross receipts, national wealth tax – 1 percent of gross income, special real property tax on land – 10 percent of assessed value of land, special real property tax on equipment – 1.5 percent of original cost less depreciation, financial benefits to host communities – P0.01 per kilowatt-hour  of sales, royalty of IPs – based on memorandum of agreements and special land use or public land permit – P0.30 per square meter per year, private land rentals based on agreements with land owners.

BENECO will be paying affected private land owners rentals of their properties from P4 to P4.60 per square meter per month while the operator of a much bigger hydro power plant only pays the affected land owners P2 to P2.403 per square meter per month.

Based on a separate agreement with the municipal government, Buguias will be receiving an average of P0.689 per kilowatt-hour share while the host local government of the much bigger power plant will only be getting P0.200 per kilowatt-hour as share.

In terms of the royalty of IPs, the IPs of the host communities in Sebang will be receiving a share from the operation of the 3-megawatt hydro power plant in the amount of P0.2197 per kilowatt-hour while IPs hosting the operation of the much bigger power plant will only be receiving P0.0150 per kilowatt-hour.

For its corporate social responsibility program, BENECO will allocate P0.0100 per kilowatt-hour while there is no data available for the operator of the bigger power plant in the region. In terms of watershed management fund, BENECO will be spending P0.0050 per kilowatt-hour of power produced while there is also no available data for the operator of the bigger power plant located in the region. More importantly, Pallogan underscored after the lapse of the 25-year contract of BENECO and upon the renewal of the agreement for another 25 years, 50 percent of the power plant will be owned by the Buguias local government while 50 percent will be owned by BENECO starting on the 26 year of operation. By HENT

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