True to his promise, Baguio Cong. Mark Go has filed House Bill (HB) 6145 in Congress last Nov. 15, 2022.
HB 6145 is an “ Act Granting a Legislative Franchise to Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) to Construct, Install, Establish, Operate and Maintain a Generation and Distribution System for the Conveyance of Electric Power to the End Users in All the Municipalities of the Province of Benguet and Baguio City.”
BENECO's 50 years franchise to operate as an electric distribution utility (DU) was granted March 20, 1978 will end by March 20, 2028.
“ Granting a legislative franchise to BENECO will ensure the continuous supply and delivery of affordable, efficient, and safe electric power to the people of Baguio City and Benguet Province,” Go said in recognition of the efficiency of BENECO in providing stable, safe, and affordable power to its consumers.
The generation cost of BENECO over the years has been acknowledged as the cheapest for on-grid ECs.
This was due to the foresight of BENECO in acknowledging the dire need to enter into a bilateral power supply contract with an independent power producer (IPP) in 2003, according to Rep. Go.
BENECO was one of the first, if not the first EC to enter into a bilateral power supply contract with an IPP right after the passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) in 2001.
Most of the ECs then were still signing transition supply contracts with the National Power Corporation (NPC).
BENECO consumers continue to enjoy comparatively lower generation cost with the P5.73/kWh interim price contract negotiated by the management led by GM Melchor Licoben and the Board of Directors, when the price of coal skyrocketed earlier this year.
At the October 29, 2022 Culminating Program of BENECO's month-long celebration of its Oct. 5 founding anniversary, Go announced his promise to file the bill of franchise renewal the soonest, saying “ this is very important in ensuring that we will not be confronted with the mess that has been created by another agency.”
His statement was in reference to the overreach and abuse of authority by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) when it disregarded the BENECO Board's appointment of Licoben as the GM of BENECO.
The NEA rules provide that it can only impose its step in rights when an electric cooperative is ailing. BENECO being a triple A category EC is not ailing.
Go's assurance to file the bill was made before the Member-Consumer-Owners (MCOs), local government units (LGU) leaders, and other civic society representatives in Baguio-Benguet and the employees of BENECO who attended the program.***LSI