TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Rural electric cooperatives in the Cordillera can better manage hydro power plants situated in their franchise areas and can provide indigenous peoples (IPs) and host communities with greater benefits that could lead to much lower cost of power for their consumers.
This developed as the Cordillera Region Electric Cooperatives Association (CRECA) passed Resolution No. 2017-07 appealing to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to allow electric cooperatives (ECs), with abundant renewable potentials in their respective franchise coverage areas located under ancestral domains, to challenge holders of existing hydro service contracts, provided, the electric cooperatives can provide greater benefit to the local community including reduced cost of electricity to member-consumers.
CRECA is seriously pursuing mini-hydro power generation development in various locations in the Cordillera where the ECs are granted by Presidential Decree (PD) 269 to operate distribution systems as well as put up renewable energy plants such as mini-hydro power plants to energy power security to member-consumers’ future energy demand which is significantly increasing through the years.
To date, CRECA stated there are ongoing detailed feasibility studies simultaneously conducted along Pasil river at Pasil and Lubuagan towns in Kalinga for the purpose of putting up a hydro generation facility to be owned by the group of electric cooperatives in the region.
Based on the results of the financial studies, CRECA will be able to provide much greater benefit to the local community as compared to the offers of private developers in the region because it can plough back to the member-consumers greater benefits by significantly lowering the cost of power being charged them by the ECs.
Likewise, CRECA is the only consortium of ECs interested to develop hydro power plants around the region offering the host communities, including the indigenous peoples (IPs) and local governments, the opportunity to own 50 percent of the mini-hydro power plants after the 25th year of operation without any monetary contribution from the communities that will translate to substantial revenue to the host villages in the future aside from ensuring significant reduction in the cost of electricity.
The group argued financial studies also show that only EC developers, being non-stock, non-profit entities, have the power to significantly lower the generation cost in their respective franchise areas to as low as P1.50 per kilowatt-hour once the loan used for the projects will be fully paid within the 10th to 12th year of operation wherein the cheap cost of power will ultimately benefit the member-consumers and contribute in spurring development in the local community because of the residual disposable income as a result of paying less electricity bill.
Unfortunately, various hydro power developers were able to acquire hydro service contracts for a number of river systems in the different parts of the region that are potential sources of substantial hydro power without the required free and prior informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous communities pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) which has raised concern among IPs and host local governments.