By MANNY LOSTE
BAGUIO CITY — As of end June, Beneco reported an 80% accomplishment of the experimental street-lighting maintenance project under an agreement between city hall and Beneco for the latter’s takeover of the city’s street lighting maintenance which is to last from March to September this year.
It has cost Beneco some P14.3M so far for the repair and purchase of new street-lighting equipment according to Engr. Ricardo Pallogan, head of the Operations and Maintenance Department of Beneco. A 100% completion is projected by the end of August this year, Pallogan said.
The experiment has received the enthusiastic support of city residents and city barangay officials because it has helped in making their community safer according to Leo Belingon, Beneco’s marketing specialist. In fact, Congressman Mauricio Domogan has pledged during one barangay assembly to endorse the continuation of the project to the city council on a permanent basis, Belingon claimed.
Aside from La Trinidad which had earlier gone into this kind of set-up with Beneco, other Benguet towns are asking for the same kind of arrangemnet including such municipalities as Sablan, Atok, and Mankayan, Belingon added.
“Too good to be true”
When pressed why Beneco embarked on a project which seems “too good to be true”, Beneco’s General Manager Gerardo Verzosa explained that Beneco is trying to discharge its corporate social responsibility towards its membership and the larger community. Besides, whenever there is some problem in street-lighting in the city, it is Beneco that gets the blame with our offices receiving 15-20 complaints daily. We want to protect the reputation of Beneco, he added.
“But we are not a charitable organization. The city has to agree to the 12-hour usage which is the industry standard for us to cover the cost of maintenance, repair and replacements of sensitive electrical components that are exposed to the elements or an additional 2-hour usage from the current 10 hours.” Verzosa explained.
Asked how much it would cost the city for the additional 2-burning hours, Verzosa gave the figure of P400,000 per month.
“But the city would be saving much more in terms of personnel and equipment, not to mention the greater safety and security for city residents with a well-maintained street-lighting system. Besides, the city will be paying the same amount, even if only 50% of the street lights are working. So, why not give our city residents value for money. And we will be there to respond 24/7 to any emergency, with our well-trained crews,” he concluded.
Bidding for ASIN Hydro?
On the prospect for Beneco bidding for the Asin Hydro, Verzosa clarified that Beneco board has not taken any position on the issue. If ever they decide to do so, it will come after a due diligent study of the terms and references of the bidding.
As to accusations that Beneco has not passed on to its consumers the benefits of its loan condonation, Verzosa dismissed them as baseless. “Matagal nang na ipasa yun sa mga consumers. They (accusers) need to do better research and understand well how the system works,” he concluded.
Cost reduction passed on to consumers
On another front, Engr. Joselito Villarey, Beneco’s Executive Planning Officer, reported a reduction in Beneco’s power purchased cost ranging from P88,845,364.14 to P118,598,855 through its participation in the open spot market or WESM where they are able to buy power during non-peak hours.
While this is limited by law to only 10% of the total power requirement of electric cooperatives, still Beneco was able to pass on to consumers the benefits of cost reduction ranging from P1.2799 – P0.4847 per kwhr since it started participating in WESM last May 2008 to the present. # nordis.net