BAGUIO CITY – The only barangay in Benguet that has yet to be energized can now look forward to use electricity as the lines of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) has finally reached its boundaries.
Lusod, the most remote of the 13 barangays of Kabayan, can be reached after a six-hour ride from Baguio City.
Thirty seven households got their power during the switch on ceremonies on June 5, ending years of the barangay’s dependence on a micro hydropower generator that could only supply light for a limited period as the generator needed to be recharged form time to time.
The switch on is a continuation of Beneco’s commitment to energize the remote villages in the province despite the emergence of more sitios that want electricity, Melchor Licoben, OIC general manager, said.
The need to energize Lusod started in 2013 when it was included in the list of unenergized barangays that required funding from the national government. That year, the Aquino administration launched a P35 billion electrification program called Sitio Energization Program (Sep) and Barangay Line Enhancement Program (Blep) that will run until 2016.
It is the national government that provides the budget for the energization of the country’s remote barangays which the electric cooperatives implement. The bureaucratic process for fund allocation and the need to follow procurement requirements sometimes contribute to the delay in the immediate energization of the areas from the time their names were submitted to the national government.
Licoben, who was then Beneco’s network services department manager, recalled that Lusod has posed a great challenge for Beneco since Lusod’s location and rugged terrain have made it difficult to bring line materials to the area.
Lusod can be reached through its adjacent barangays Ballay and Tawangan.
A budget of P9.9 million was allotted for the three barangays. Ballay and Tawangan were energized in 2017 but Lusod was left behind since it was the farthest.
The work for Lusod was hampered by the need to open a road going to the barangay to enable the transport of electric hardware and materials. Typhoons also caused further delay as damaged poles and electrical wires needed to be repaired.
Marrio Calatan, the engineer who led the technical team during the switch on, said that it was in May this year when the transformers and kilowatt hour meters were finally installed in the initial batch of household beneficiaries.
“It is always fulfilling to bring electricity to our indigenous communities that have waited to be energized for years,” he said.
Sandy Wais, Lusod barangay chairman, and councillors Dan Guinsiman and Marlon Nginsayan, joined the folks in the area in thanking Beneco for its effort to energize Lusod.
“We will now enjoy the benefits of having electricity,” Wais said. By James Palicdon