Baguio hydroelectric plants lose sole clientPhilippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY—The summer capital’s hydroelectric power plants, which were built by the American colonial government in the early 1900s, lost their only client.
The Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) stopped buying electricity from the Asin mini-hydroelectric plants on Oct. 12 and disconnected the facility’s access to its transmission lines because the city government would not submit to the regulatory prerequisites of Republic Act No. 9136 (Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 or Epira) for power generation facilities.
Among the unfulfilled conditions of their transaction is a power supply agreement, which Beneco said it could not acquire from the city government, documents showed.
The city government owns four hydropower plants in Barangay Nangalisan in Tuba, Benguet, which generate a combined 3.2 megawatts of electricity.
Gerardo Verzosa, Beneco general manager, informed Mayor Mauricio Domogan about the utility’s decision in an Oct. 11 letter, after talks to maintain the partnership broke down.
Verzosa said Beneco and the city government disagreed over Baguio’s position that its power plants were not required to follow some of Epira’s rules because it had existed and operated before the law’s passage in 2001.
He told Domogan that Beneco was willing to reconnect the Asin plants to the utility’s system “after the city has complied with the requirements of the Philippine Distribution Code and has acquired the certificate of compliance for generation facilities [mandated by] the Energy Regulatory Commission.”
Baguio would need to put up its own distribution lines and a substation in order to sell power generated by its Asin plants through the Luzon grid, Verzosa said.
Beneco started buying power generated by the Asin plants in January 2007, when the city reclaimed control over the facilities from their custodian, the Baguio Water District, and subcontractor, Hydroelectric Power Corp. (Hedcor).
City officials said the relationship soured when the city government put up the power plants for lease to developers that may improve its capacity, using terms of reference that automatically disqualified Beneco from the bidding process.
Beneco was the only investor to offer a bid in two bidding activities undertaken this year by the city government, but this was disregarded because it was not registered with the Cooperative Development Authority.
Beneco’s last purchase from Asin was made in September and cost P4 million, Verzosa said. The cooperative has power purchase deals with other plants in Luzon to continue supplying Baguio and Benguet’s daily electricity requirements. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon