Beneco comes to aid of city over hydros

"We're all into this (problem)."

With this statement of support, the Benguet Electric Cooperaive (Beneco) has come in support of the city in untangling the mess the latter is embroiled in as a result of the failure of a company to begin rehabilitation of the city's four hydroelectric plants. .

City mayor Mauricio Domogan has approved Beneco's request to conduct a research and study on the three remaining pre-war power plants along the Asin River that were built during the American period by then mayor Eusebius Halsema as the city's mainstay in its development thrusts.

"We have lined up several technical activities, including liaison works and coordination with the land owners as well as the community and the Tuba Indigenous People's Organization," Beneco general manager Gerardo Verzosaa and Beneco power generation department manager Engr. Ricardo Pallogan wrote the mayor earlier.

"After the said activities, we will eventually submit to the city government our proposal for the rehabilitation, upgrading and expansion of the city-owned mini-hydro facilities along the (Salyangan and Galiano rivers).

For six years now, the city has been losing an average of P2.5 million a month since the local government took over the facilities and subjected them to bidding for their rehabilitation.

Kaltimex Energy Philippines, the winning bidder, however, failed to start rehabilitation work despite having been awarded the contract on July 17, 2014.

Curiously, the city banned Beneco from bidding by coming out with an onerous qualifying rule that only electric cooperatives registered with the Cooperative Development Authority would be eligible to submit their bid proposals. Beneco is registered with the National Electrification Administration, which is also allowed to accredit electric cooperatives.

Beneco became caretaker of the plants after the city turned over the same for operation by the Baguio Water District. In a masterful stroke, the BWD had the Beneco manage the plants while being entitled to a share of the electricity being generated by them.

In preparation for the bidding, the city six years ago took over the plants from Beneco and awarded to Kaltimex their rehabilitation and operation on July 17, 2014.

Figures from past operation of the plants under Beneco showed the city collected P31,345,631.99 from January to December, 2011 and P28,112,806. 14 from January to October, 2012.

With the stand-off, the city is considering the confiscation of Kaltimex's P150 million bond. Last April 11, mayor Domogan sent a demand letter to Kaltimex for payment of fees with damages amounting to P13,644,500. – Ramon Dacawi.

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