Issue of November 3, 2019
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BENECO takes over dev’t of Buguias hydro power plant
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

The Benguet Eletric Cooperative has taken over the development of its pet mini hydro power plant project in Buguias, Benguet after rescinding its contract with Phesco Inc. in 2017.

In the absence of a restraining order that will prevent development of the power plant and its surrounding areas, Beneco board president Rocky Aliping said the electric cooperative undertook the project “by administration” in order to meet its target that the three-megawatt power plant should begin operating by the second semester of 2020.

In February this year, Phesco Inc., developer of the Buguias power plant, won its arbitration case versus Beneco.

The Construction Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC) ordered Beneco to pay Phesco a total of P58,083,512.64 with six percent interest rate per annum until fully paid after it ruled that Beneco unilaterally rescinded their contract. 

Citing failure to follow the set dates of construction, the Beneco board of directors, in August 2017, ratified General Manager Gerardo Verzosa’s rescission of its contract with Phesco.

Phesco questioned the rescission of the contract, saying the delay in the implementation of the program of work was due to Beneco’s lapses such as alleged inability to turn over the site premises without resistance from landowners, belated discovery of unsuitable soil conditions, Beneco’s delay in submitting its response to their technical queries, and delay in approval of construction drawings.

Phesco also filed an administrative case against ranking officials of the Beneco at the National Electrification Administration.

CIAC ruled in favor of Phesco saying the delay in project implementation was attributable to Beneco.

Beneco appealed the ruling at the CA. Aliping said the court has yet to issue a directive of documents that they have to submit. NEA, on the other hand, set a hearing on Nov. 5.

Pending the court’s ruling on the case, Aliping said development at the area will proceed.

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