By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—In Benguet Electric Cooperative’s (Beneco) official statement on the House Bill No. 5518 filed by Baguio Representative Bernardo Vergara presented before the Sangguiang Panlalawigan (SP), said, “splitting Beneco’s franchise needs stronger basis and further study.”
The statement said that they respect the filing of the said Bill however, they hit the basis that said, “Beneco is inefficient in doing its task as a power distributor in Baguio and Benguet”.
The statement pointed out that Beneco was granted the franchise by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to provide light and power service for Baguio City and 13 municipalities of Benguet on March 20, 1978 for a period of 50 years. It stressed that amending the area coverage of the Electric Cooperative has legal implications.
Beneco further pointed out that their area coverage can only be modified if they have really failed to perform their mandate according to the franchise and has violated the terms and conditions of its franchise. The statement claims that the power distributor has fulfilled and continues to fulfill its mandate to provide power and pursue rural and sitio energization and has not violated any of the terms in its franchise.
“To date, Beneco has not breached a condition of its franchise that would merit the cancellation or amendment of the said franchise,” it further stated.
Also, it is the power industry’s regulatory bodies like NEA and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) that should certify if Beneco has not been successful or it it has miserably failed to accomplish its mandate.
As a proof of mandate accomplishment, Beneco mentioned in their statement that NEA awarded them with other 15 electric cooperative nationwide as a category A+ during their national convention in 2011.
Moreover, BAELCO that according to the proposed bill will take over the power distribution in Baguio. It should have a proof that the present distributor is inept in the power distribution industry and has the means namely, “financial ability, technical capability, and possession of technically skilled manpower to confront the complexity of the engineering, technical, financial accounting, reportorial requirements and regulatory compliance of the power distribution industry”.
Also, it pointed out that the bill intends to ignore Beneco’s franchise or automatically amend or alter the franchise and grant an automatic franchise to BAELCO. “These intentions are legally suspect,” it further stated.
With regards to the questions on Beneco’s rates, performance and management, the statement said that these are not enough reasons to justify a split in the franchise area. It explained that the power distribution industry is a regulated business. It is regularly checked by the power regulatory bodies if it is performing according to standards.
Furthermore, during the Annual General Membership Assembly on December last year, the move to split the area coverage of the said franchise was deferred by member consumers for further study.
The statement stressed that there is no feasibility study that would show that splitting the area coverage will make power distribution better. # nordis.net