February 9, 2023

The Benguet Electric Cooperative is not losing its sight on renewable energy development projects to continue offering member-consumers affordable rates.

With the operations of the Man-asok mini-hydro plant in Buguias, Benguet, Beneco General Manager Melchor Licoben said the electric cooperative will revisit its plans of pursuing a renewable energy project in Kabayan.

“We want to revisit our plans in Kabayan because we are encouraged by the operations of our 3-megawatt mini-hydro plants in Buguias,” he said.

The Man-asok power plants started running in December and is already contributing to the Luzon grid, although Beneco is yet to complete the requirements for the operations to be monetized.

Licoben said the model adopted by Beneco in its Buguias power plants will change the landscape for renewable energy developers, especially in terms of providing benefits to the host communities and partnership with the local government unit.

Among other benefits, Beneco’s Man-asok operations promised the host local government unit of a  share of 26 centavos per kilowatt-hour generated by the power plants.

Buguias will also be the co-owner of the Man-asok on the 26th year of its operations, which means the LGU will get 50 percent of the income derived from the power plants’ operations.

Aside from the two sites in Kabayan that have a combined capacity of 30 MW, Licoben said Beneco is also eyeing two sites in Tuba that have potentials for renewable energy project development.

“The local government units of Bakun and Kibungan have also informed us of their intention to partner with us because they are encouraged by the business model we adopted in Buguias,” Licoben said.

He added renewable energy development is the answer to the escalating prices of electricity, which, based on the monthly bill, is driven by generation charges.

“If we are able to generate electricity through renewable sources, imagine the (positive) impact it will have on our rates,” Licoben said, adding coal, which used to be the cheapest source of power, has become expensive due to several factors in the global market.

Licoben said renewable energy development projects are some of the several ways Beneco is venturing in to provide reliable and affordable electricity to the member-consumers, despite the several challenges it is facing involving pandemic-related concerns, renewal of its franchise, securing a long-term power supply contract, and the ongoing leadership turmoil brought caused by the National Electrification Administration. – Jane B. Cadalig