Trust fund for Asin mini-hydro mulled
BAGUIO CITY (Jan. 15) — Despite non-admission of a rush in creating a trust fund for the Asin mini-hydro plants the Baguio City council today approved on second reading a consolidated ordinance for adoption and implementation by the city government once it is approved on final reading and endorsed by the city acting mayor.
In this week’s regular session, the city council agreed to consolidate into an ordinance a resolution which specifies that all revenues from the mini-hydros be put in a trust fund. The proposal by Councilor Rocky Thomas Balisong will be merged with a proposed ordinance by acting Vice-Mayor Leandro B. Yangot Jr. last week which the council passed on first reading last week. Only Councilor Edilberto Tenefrancia abstained from voting.
The Yangot proposal will ensure smooth, uninterrupted and continuous operation of the three mini-hydro plants in Tuba, Benguet. Yangot said, this would ultimately result in optimum earnings for the city.
Yangot, the only electrical engineer in the city council, proposed that all earnings from the hydros be deposited in the trust fund and that includes the un-remitted share from the September to December 2006 operations by Hedcor. He also proposed that all related expenses for the management, operations and maintenance of the hydros, including personnel salaries and operating expenses shall be withdrawn from the Asin account. Government procedures on accounting and auditing shall apply to the trust fund, according to Yangot.
The city created a management committee with Balisong as its action officer, to oversee the management and operations of the hydros after Hedcor turned over the property to the city on December 26. The said body’s mandate includes the preparation of terms of reference for the eventual holding of the bidding, in the event that the city could not manage the plants. Private companies interested in managing and operating the hydros are reportedly participating in the bidding.
According to City Administrator, Peter Fianza, who was summoned to the council, in order for the city to operate the hydros, a capital outlay of P2M is needed for repair of equipment and oil of vehicles. He also estimated that the salary of workers is P400,000 a month and a monthly operating expense of P800,000.
Fianza also told the council that the hydros earn some P3 million a month except on lean months which starts in April, when production is minimal due to insufficient water pressure to run the turbines.
Fianza disclosed that in a meeting of the management committee some stakeholders in Tuba town in Benguet, their main concern are regarding the permits for re-operation of the system, which he said, will take some 45 days to secure. He said, it will also give him time to address the concerns of land claimants.
Tenefrancia pointed out some problems regarding the re-operation of the said plant, among them iscontract with Bengue Electric Coperative (Beneco) to absorb production from Asin hydro. He stressed that this contract must be made before they sell the electric power to Beneco. He recalled that Beneco refused to buy power production from the city before, so Hedcor sold it to San Fernando Power instead. Second is the share from September 1 to December 31, 2006 held in trust by Hedcor covering the city and Baguio Water District’s share. Tenefrancia also asked on the status of the terms of reference the management committee is expected to draft.
Balisong informed the council that Beneco is now willing to help the council with the electricity produced by the hydros. He also said that there had been a meeting with Hedcor regarding the unremitted share for the city and BWD since August 2006 to February 2007, which the city could use for the operations.
Meanwhile, acting Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. said the city would not file any case against Tuba residents who allegedly diverted water supply from the hydros in December causing a three-day total power shutdown in Tadiangan and Nangalisan communities in Tuba. He said the city is more concerned with managing the hydros, and the more pressing issues like pay-parking, squatting and solid waste management.
Earlier, Bautista was quoted in other media outfits to have said the city is preparing to sue a group of ancestral land claimants allegedly responsible for the power outages. # Lyn V. Ramo, with reports by Pamela Aniceto, for NORDIS