Electric coops seek to match offer by private hydropower developers

ALARMED over the increasing number of private hydropower developers being given “water rights” and service contracts, the Cordillera Region Electric Cooperatives Association (Creca) has asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to allow its members to challenge the benefits being offered by these companies.

In Resolution 2017-07, Creca called on the DOE to allow them “to challenge holder(s) of existing hydro-service contracts provided the electric cooperatives can provide greater benefit to the local community and will reduce the cost of electricity to member-consumers.”

The resolution was adopted during the Creca meeting held July 28 by representatives of the electric cooperatives of Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Mt. Province, Kalinga and Apayao.

These areas are collectively called the watershed cradle of Northern Luzon.

Private hydroelectric power developers have already obtained “water rights” from the National Water Resources Board over most of the rivers in the Cordillera.

The resolution pointed out that, based on financial studies, Creca members “will be able to provide much greater benefit to the local community as compared to the offers by the private developers in the region.”

“Creca likewise is the only EC developer offering the local community the opportunity to own 50 percent (of) mini hydro power plants after the 25th year of cooperation without any monetary contribution from the local community, of which will translate to substantial revenue to the local community in the future,” the resolution stated.

A case in point is the agreement between the Benguet Electric Cooperative and the host town of Buguias, which provides that the municipality will co-own the three-megawatt Man-asok hydroelectric plant being built in Sebang, Buguias at a cost of P451 million.

A fact sheet on the project said the facility will be 50-percent owned by Beneco and 50-percent owned by the Buguias local government unit on the 26th year until the life of the mini-hydroelectric plant.

The Creca resolution noted that “financial studies revealed only electric cooperative developers, being non-stock, non-profit entities, have the power to lower the generation cost in their respective franchise area to as low as P1.50/kWh once the loans are fully paid within 10-12 years of operation of which cheap cost of power will ultimately benefit the member-consumers and spur development in the local community because of the residual disposable income as a result of paying less electricity bill.” (PR)
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