BAGUIO CITY – The development and operation of renewable energy generating plants will be the major game changer in significantly reducing the supposed high power rates to reasonable and cheap rates for its growing number of consumers in the future, a ranking official of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) said here recently.
BENECO general manager Gerardo P. Verzosa admitted that he actually failed in coming out with a decision to develop and operate minihydro power plants within its franchise area earlier so that the consumers could now be enjoying the benefits of cheap and quality power produced by renewable energy plants operated by the cooperative.
However, he pointed out that it is not still late for the cooperative to have a number of minihydro power plants starting with the 3-megawatt Maan-asoc minihydro plant in Sebang, Buguias, Benguet which is now currently undergoing construction by administration.
While the effect of the eventual operation of its 3-megawatt minihydro plant in Buguias will be minimal to the existing rate, Verzosa added the eventual development and operation of similar and bigger minihydro power plants within BENECO’s franchise area will definitely bring down the existing rate that varies from P6 to P8 per kilowatthour depending on the prevailing generation and transmission as well as other charges imposed on the consumers as approved by the regulatory agencies.
“WE are setting our sights on several minihydro power plants in Kabayan and other potential river systems within the franchise area of the cooperative. We are confident that the indigenous peoples who will be affected by our proposed projects will give their consent because the benefits that will accrue to them is much higher compared to the benefits being promised by some renewable companies intending to operate similar plants in Benguet,” Verzosa stressed.
According to him, the business model that BENECO was able to put to reality in its Man-asoc project is the fact that after the 25th year of operation or in the 27th year of the plant’s existence, the ownership will be shared with the indigenous peoples wherein 50 percent ownership of the local corporation will be given to the indigenous peoples contrary to the practice of a renewable energy company which declares total ownership of the plant and provides very minimal benefits to its host and neighboring communities.
Further, Verzosa asserted that after BENECO shall have paid its loan with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DPB) for the put up of the project, the income to be derived from the operation of the power plants will be plowed back to the consumers through much cheaper power rates that could go as low as P2 per kilowatthour through the blending of the rates in the area.
The BENECO official emphasized that apart from venturing on the development and operation of renewable energy within and even outside its franchise area, the cooperative is also pushing in the adoption of the latest technology that will provide convenience not only for the consumers but also for the employees for them to be able to perform other productive activities beneficial to the interest of the cooperative considering the competition being confronted by the industry, especially from established private companies wanting to takeover ailing and even performing rural electric cooperatives in the different parts of the country.