Council summons BENECO directors on turnover of streetlights

Baguio city April 10 – The local legislative body invited members of the Board of Directors of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) and officials of the City Engineering Office (CEO) to appear during its regular session on Monday, April 15, 2019 to shed light on the unilateral decision of the electric cooperative to turnover the management of the city's streetlights to the CEO that reportedly caused numerous problems in the barangays over the past several weeks.

The decision to invite members of the BENECO Board of Directors and CEO officials came after the invited resource persons sent notice to the local legislative body that they could not attend the council's regular session Last Monday considering their reported prior commitments to equally important matters concerning the welfare of the cooperative's growing number of consumers.

Local legislators raised concern over the numerous complaints they have been receiving from the city's 128 barangays on the alleged failure of the CEO to attend to their complaints on the maintenance of their streetlights and the immediate replacement of busted bulbs that pose a serious threat to the city's peace and order situation.

Earlier, BENECO sent notice to the local government on its intention to turnover the management and operation of the city's streetlights pursuant to a memorandum of agreement signed by the two parties last January 26, 2019 that will take effect 30 days after receipt of the said notice.

According to the notice, the electric cooperative reportedly lost over P25 million for nearly 6 years of maintaining and operating the city's over 8,500 streetlights when that amount could have been used to update its power distribution system to contribute in improving the delivery of quality power to the growing consumers, aside from the fact that over 40 percent of the complaints that its consumer welfare officers receive per day is related to the maintenance of the streetlights in the city's barangays.

In 2013, BENECO and the local government entered into a memorandum of agreement for the former to take charge of the maintenance and operation of the city's streetlighting system in exchange for the increase from 10 to 12 burning hours which will be compensated by the city until the city convert its streetlights to the state-of-the-art Light Emitting Diode (LED).

Some local legislators claimed that there is a need to invite BENECO directors, CEO officials and representatives of the City Mayor to shed light on the matter considering as the local legislative body was not aware of the agreement and its condition, thus, the need for them to know what happened.

BENECO stated it is already over 6 years since the agreement was executed but the local government has not yet advanced in its effort to convert its streetlights to LED despite the presence of an approved terms of reference for the city's LED project, thus, the city has to start converting its streetlights to LED before it will be overtaken by the latest developments in the LED technology.

By Dexter A. See

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