BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) is committed in sustaining its cheap power rates being charged to its member-consumer-owners (MCOs) despite the fluctuating prices of coal in the world market and the prevailing leadership crisis being fueled by the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
BENECO general manager Engr. Melchor S. Licoben claimed that the electric cooperative anticipated the skyrocketing prices of coal in the world market thus before its price reached more than $400 per metric ton, negotiations were already undertaken by the electric cooperative with the TEAM Energy Corporation, the major power supplier of the electric cooperative, to maintain a decent generation charge for the benefit of the consumers.
He disclosed that for several months, the power generation charge passed on by BENECO to the consumers was pegged at P4.9500 per kilowatt-hour amidst the sudden surge in coal prices in the world market that caused power rates to significantly increase starting middle of last year.
The BENECO official underscored that it took some time before the power supplier increased its power generation charge to P5.7300 per kilowatt-hour which was again passed on to the consumers starting last September last year and whatever loss incurred was absorbed by the major power supplier.
According to him, the power supply agreement between BENECO and TEAM Energy Corporation will be expiring so the electric cooperative is adopting a two-pronged approach to ensure the steady supply of cheap power to the consumers, especially with the aggressive implementation of the government’s Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) in remote villages within its franchise area.
Licoben explained that BENECO, together with other electric cooperatives in Luzon, will be participating in an amalgamated bidding of their combined power supply for them to be able to get a decent deal with the power supplier at least for the short period of 2024 to 2025.
Additionally, he stipulated that another bidding for their power supply will be conducted to cover the longer-term period of 2026 to 2028 to ensure the steady supply of cheap power while efforts are being done to facilitate the renewal of BENECO’s franchise as a power distribution utility covering the Baguio and Benguet area.
The BENECO general manager emphasized that the electric cooperative will definitely sustain the implementation of the government’s rural electrification program in the next 6 years to ensure that people living in remote villages will enjoy cheap and quality power that will spur their economic activities.
BENECO was able to maintain its cheap power rates over the past several decades despite having to service numerous non-viable communities that are situated in the remote communities in its Benguet franchise area. It earned its classification as a Class AAA electric cooperative because of its ability to maintain its cheap power rates which is lower compared to private power distribution utilities that have much bigger franchise areas and larger number of consumers.