BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) is setting its sights on various areas in the different towns of Benguet as hosts proposed put-up of additional hydro power plants to contribute in efforts to increase the supply of renewable energy that will be infused to the gird that eventually will result to cheaper power rates.
BENECO general manager Engr. Melchor S. Licoben pointed out that now that the 3.2-megawatt Man-asok minihydro power plant is already connected to the grid and awaiting its certificate of commerciality from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for its produce to be paid, other potential sites for the put-up of additional hydro power plants are in Kabayan and Tuba.
The BENECO official claimed that the potential of the proposed Kabayan hydro project is more or less 30 megawatts but the investment required is around P3 billion.
Further, he added that BENECO is also looking at 2 possible sites in Tuba where the proposed hydro power plants can be constructed.
Licoben disclosed that the mayors of Kibungan and Bakun also wrote BENECO informing the electric cooperative of their desire to partner with the latter to explore the possibility of putting up hydro power plants in their respective areas of jurisdiction that will contribute in the energization of still unenergized remote villages in these municipalities.
According to him, the benefits derived by the host communities, indigenous peoples and local governments from the operation of the Man-asok minihydro power plant will surely make a big difference in the lives of the people in the communities through benefits that will be contained in the memorandum of agreement (MOA) that will be forged between BENECO and the host communities.
Under the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9136 otherwise known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), host communities, including indigenous peoples organizations and local governments, are entitled to at least one centavo per kilowatt-hour of production as benefit as hosts of power generation plants in their communities.
However, in the case of the host communities of the Man-asok minihydro power plant, host communities will be entitled to at least P0.26 per kilowatt-hour in total monetary and non-monetary benefits during the 25-year operation of the power plant.
After the lapse of the prescribed 25-year operation and upon renewal of the term of the operation of the power plant, the local government and the indigenous peoples organization will be owning 50 percent of the facility as a benefit-sharing arrangement unlike in the present set-up where companies operating the renewable power plants own the facilities while it is operational.
BENECO is positioning itself as one of the major power generation companies that grant substantial benefits to the host communities hosting their renewable energy plants.