TUBA, Benguet – The National Power Corporation (NPC) is ready to bid out the proposed construction of a 1-megawatt solar power farm in barangay Tabaan Sur here after the delays on the foreign-assisted project due to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) is one of the recipients of a grant from the European Union for the put up of the solar farm which is being facilitated by the World Bank to ensure its successful implementation.
BENECO General Manager Engr. Melchor S. Licoben said that the solar farm will be constructed within a 1.5-hectare property which is part of a 7-hectare property purchased by the electric cooperative for the implementation of the renewable energy project to maximise the available sources of renewable energy to produce clean, cheap and quality power for the consumers.
He pointed out that the available land area that will not be used by this initial solar farm will soon be used for expansion purposes to an additional 5-megawatt solar power.
The BENECO official stipulated that the ongoing renewable energy projects of the electric cooperative in partnership with local and foreign companies are geared towards keeping its power rates affordable while contributing in efforts to maximize the potentials of available sources of renewable power to sustain efforts to preserve and protect the environment
At present, BENECO relies heavily on the power supply being provided by the Sual-based coal-fired power plant being operated by TEAM Energy Corporation with power rates now on an increasing trend because of the skyrocketing prices of coal, the major component of existing coal-fired power plants in the country, in the world market.
In 2017, BENECO consumers approved the amendments of its constitution and by laws to include power generation in its power distribution business, that served as a basis for its active involvement in the construction of renewable energy plants, such as its proposed 1-megawatt solar power farm in barangay Tabaan Sur and its already completed 3-megawatt minihydro power plant in Man-asok, Sebang, Buguias.
Aside from working on the expansion of its solar power farm, BENECO is also eying the possible put up of additional minihydro power plants in other parts of the province to significantly increase the supply of renewable energy so that consumers can feel the benefits of these in their monthly power bills and for host communities to reap the benefits of hosting such environmentally-friendly projects.
BENECO is one of the few electric cooperatives in the country whose power rates are at par with private power distribution companies that have a much bigger market, apart from the fact that it is operating in a franchise area with numerous non-viable areas but was able to maintain its top status over the past several years.