BAGUIO CITY March 14 – An official of the Kaltimex Energy Philippines reiterated the company’s genuine interest to pursue the fulfillment of its operation and management contract with the local government for the privatization of the three Asin mini-hydropower plants provided that the social and other legal issues concerning the city-owned plants shall be appropriately addressed with the assistance of local officials.
Oscar Turalba, Kaltimex Energy Philippines president and chief executive officer, briefed the members of the local legislative body on the existing condition of the city-owned power plants more than two years since the privatization contract was signed, citing the cost of repairing the three plants is now almost the same as the cost of building new power plants with the installation of state-of-the-art units of equipment and machinery.
Further, he pointed out one of the hindrances for the company to pursue the project are the various social and legal issues involving the unpaid claims of the affected land owners, the service contract awarded by the Department of Energy (DOE) to Goldlink over the Asin river, the opposition filed by concerned sectors to the transfer of the water rights of the Baguio Water District (BWD) to the local government and the opposition raised by the municipal government of Tuba over the operation of the power plants.
Turalba pointed out the existing social and legal issues over the power plants have significantly affected the company’s peaceful possession of the plants to start its proposed rehabilitation that will allow the local government to start earning the necessary income from its operation considering that it never benefitted from it since it was ordered to stop operation in October 2012.
It will be recalled that the local legislative body passed Resolution No. 037,2017 confirming the privatization contract entered into by the City Government of Baguio and Kaltimex Energy Philippines for the operation and management of the city-owned Asin hydro power plants for a 20-year period and requesting the company to immediately pay the prescribed P18 million performance bond pursuant to the signed agreement.
Under the contract, the City Mayor is supposed to issue the notice to proceed to Kaltimex 10 days from the confirmation of the agreement to compel the company to have the basis in settling the prescribed performance bond.
Turalba claimed the company, which will source out 70 percent of its funds from various financial institutions, is financially and technically capable of pursing the proposed rehabilitation and upgrading of the hydropower plants once it will be peacefully turned over to allow it to undertake the prescribed works without unnecessary delays.
The city is the only local government in the archipelago that owns renewable energy plants which was turned over to the local government by the Americans who built the said plants in the early 1900s.
The Asin hydro power plants are located within the jurisdiction of the municipality of Tuba, Benguet along the stretch of the Asin river and its seven tributaries.
By Dexter A. See