February 6, 2023

BENECO member-consumers must assert ownership

Most electric cooperatives have a franchise of less than five years and are non-stock – have no owners but exist on the basis of Presidential Decree 269.
These ECs were established in the early ‘70s and had capitals through government borrowing, which the National Electrification Administration, as conduit, had to supervise in both technical and administrative aspects of its operation.
With the exception of a Cooperative Development Authority-registered EC, the member-consumers become member-owners who are empowered for self-governance and administration with the board of directors as stewards.
In the electric distribution industry, the open access environment has an implication on the ownership of distribution utilities mostly undertaken by ECs. Hence, for as long as an electric cooperative has no proof of ownership, vulnerability to buy out is likely to linger in the horizon. This is not theoretical but a reality happening already to some electric cooperatives with franchise about to expire.
Member-consumers are pitiful as they are unaware while oligarchs are slowly maneuvering to own some, as electric distribution is a lucrative business.
CDA-registered ECs are governed by cooperative principles, particularly autonomy and independence, where no one can just tinker with the decision of its BOD. As steward and trustee of the member-owners, the BOD of CDA-registered EC is tasked to conduct direction-setting, strategic planning, and policy making. However, these are subject to approval by the member-owners in a general assembly.
Baguio and Benguet residents, who are also member-consumers of Benguet Electric Cooperative, are intelligent voters.
Since the annual general assembly in 2019, member-consumers have overwhelmingly approved the registration of Beneco with CDA.
Member-consumers should not be indifferent if Beneco management would collect, in a separate bill, a minimal share capital. — NAME WITHHELD

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