September 23, 2023

The Benguet Electric Cooperative targets to complete the construction of its three-megawatt mini-hydro power plant in Man-asok, Sebang, Buguias this year.

Construction of the mini-hydro facility drew setback due to the prolonged community quarantine brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, but Beneco General Manager Melchor Licoben said the facility is 70 percent complete.

Licoben, who assumed the Beneco top post last month, said the electric cooperative is also waiting for the arrival of a technical expert from its German-based supplier to inspect a crucial portion of the project.

He said those in-charge of the project will soon install the power house, where the turbines and other major components of the projects will be housed.

“We hope to start operating the facility this year,” Licoben said, adding that processing of documentary requirements and certifications from concerned agencies could also delay the commissioning of the facility to signal its operation.

Beneco has ventured into renewable energy project with a P450 million loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines to develop the hydro facility in northern Benguet.

Venturing into renewable energy projects will further improve Beneco’s operation in providing power supply to its thousands of consumers in Baguio and Benguet. Renewable energy will also blend with its existing power supply from its supplier based in Sual, Pangasinan.

Beneco currently sources bulk of its power supply from a coal-fired power plant in Sual with its existing power supply agreement ending in March 2024.

Licoben said that Beneco during the stint of erstwhile GM Gerardo Verzosa also planned putting up one-megawatt solar projects in Tuba and another mini-hydro power plant in Kabayan, both in Benguet.

Beneco is among the seven beneficiaries of the European Union’s one million Euros assistance to cooperatives for a one-MW solar power generation facility.

Beneco will be the first electric cooperative to have its own renewable source of energy in the Cordillera if the Man-asok project is completed. – Harley F. Palangchao