April 21, 2024

The inevitable happened.

The Benguet Electric Cooperative announced on Aug. 25 that because of the delayed payment to power supplier Team Energy, the latter started to impose penalty in its June 2022 billing.

The interest was not disclosed due to the confidentiality agreement between Team Energy and Beneco.

In an advisory issued Aug. 25, board of directors appointed General Manager Melchor Licoben said freezing of Beneco’s accounts in some of their depository banks led to the delay in payment.

The June billing was due on Aug. 12 but Beneco has asked Team Energy to extend the deadline until Aug. 19.

Licoben said it was during the grace period that Beneco asked the city council to intervene so the utility firm can access the funds needed to pay Team Energy and other suppliers.

While the concerned parties agreed to mediation, Licoben said Beneco was not able to pay the full amount during the grace period resulting in the imposition of an interest.

Beneco also failed to pay in full last April and May, but Team Energy did not impose interest when the power utility firm partially paid. 

Beneco pays Team Energy an average P240 million monthly.

To facilitate access to the bank’s accounts, the city council’s committee on public utilities, transportation, and traffic legislation mediated the camps of Licoben and lawyer Ana Maria Paz Rafael, who also happen to be a signatory in these accounts on the basis that she was appointed general manager by the National Electrification Administration Board of Administrators.

Depository banks have frozen Beneco funds amid charges and counter-charges filed by both camps, while other banks have asked the courts to determine who had legal access to the accounts.

In the mediation last Aug. 18, Beneco Internal Auditor Brenda Carling said all collected payments of consumers are deposited to the main accounts (Landbank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, and Bank of the Philippine Islands).

She said 87 percent of the total collection is used to pay the power suppliers and the rest is used for the electric cooperative’s operational expenses.

A total of P441M is deposited in these three banks. – Rimaliza A. Opiña and Jordan G. Habbiling