City no longer entertaining proposals on Asin hydro plants

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BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved a resolution expressing the strong support of the city government’s officialdom to the stand of  Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong for the city to no longer entertain any proposals from Goldlink Global Energy Corp. in so far as it affects the operation of the city-owned Asin hydroelectric plants in Tuba, Benguet to fastrack the resolution of the case filed by the city before the energy department.

Resolution No. 337, series of 2019, states that seeing that the city operation of its Asin hydro facility may experience further delay with Goldlink endeavoring to look after its own interest at the expense of the city government, the Mayor, in a motion to resolve the aforesaid case, decided not to entertain anymore proposals from Goldlink.

Earlier, the city government filed on June 18, 2015, a complaint for revocation, cancellation of renewable energy contracts issued to Goldlink Global Energy Corp. by the energy department that pertain to the proposed hydroelectric power facilities in Tuba town that allegedly overlap with the city-owned Asin hydroelectric plants.

In an order dated March 27, 2018, the energy department, through a committee created under Special Order No. 2016-06-0029, declared the case submitted for resolution, without prejudice to the parties submission of a compromise agreement prior to promulgation of the decision or resolution in the aforesaid case.

The resolution noted that over a year after the issuance of the said order, however, the energy department has yet to resolve the said issues rendering the city-owned Asin minihydro power plants inoperable interregnum when the same could have already contributed precious renewable energy to the grid.

In 2006, the city government took over the operation of the Asin minihydro power plants from the Aboitiz-owned Hydroelectric Development Corporation (HEDCOR) after the expiration of the 25-year lease agreement when it operated the same until October 2012.

Ironically, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) issued a cease and desist order to the city government to stop the operation of the city-owned Asin minihydro power plants because of its inability to secure a certificate of compliance from the regulatory agency pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

The city government eventually awarded the maintenance and operation of the city-owned Asin hydro power plants to Kaltimex Energy Philippines which was the declared lone complying and responsive bidder, but it took the City Council more than a year to confirm the memorandum of agreement for the said endeavour.

Because of the failure of Kaltimex to execute the contract with the city, the city government decided to file a judicial restitution of the contract that will free the city from its obligations stipulated in the previous agreement but Kaltimex, under a new management, proposed for the amicable settlement of the dispute.

On the other hand, Goldlink secured the consent of the indigenous peoples of Tuba for the put up of separate power plants along the same river system that will have an impact on the city-owned power plants.

By Dexter A. See

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