The city government is now studying the proposal of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco), the lone electric distribution utility for Baguio and Benguet, to relocate the electric power lines underground, together with other public utility cables.
City Councilor Joel Alangsab, in a phone interview on Wednesday evening, said they received the proposal last year and is in the process of looking into it, particularly taking into consideration the funds needed to implement the proposal.
He said that the initial financial requirement covering the Central Business District (CBD) would cost PHP2 billion.
“I don’t know if we have the money considering that it will be an overhaul of the road, including the drainage and water pipes,” Alangsab said.
Alangsab said it must be a joint undertaking of the local government unit of Baguio, the utility companies and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The proposal comes in the wake of frequent power outages in the city due to road accidents where trucks and other vehicles bump into power lines carrying Beneco’s transformers and feeder lines.
The measure also seeks to curb other accidents such as falling electric posts, dangling power and cable lines as well as improve the view of the city’s roads as these will be cleared of ‘spaghetti cable lines’.
He said that once it materializes, the electricity, cable and telecom lines including water and drainage system would all be placed underground.
Atty. Delmar Cariño, Beneco manager for institutional services, said the proposal is a result of a study conducted by a Japanese consultant who prepared the technical plan. “We have already submitted the plan to the city and we hope that they will help in further studying the proposal.”
It involves 11 kilometers of underground system covering the area from the Baguio General Hospital, CBD up to Pines hospital near the city’s limit with La Trinidad, Benguet as the initial area. If budget permits, then they can expand the area to the other barangays and eventually to Benguet.
Cariño, however, said Beneco could not shoulder alone the cost of the project as this would affect the capital expense (capex) of the electric cooperative considering that it is a non-stock, non-profit cooperative owned by member-consumers.
The present rates of Beneco, he explained, do not have a component for capex as big as that required by the project and if it is pursued, they have to “ask the member consumers to take part in the capex cost and it will really be very high because you have to place everything under the ground.”
Technically, the lawyer said Beneco is capable but they need to have a detailed engineering plan and design as well as a sound technical study, noting that a lot of infrastructures had to be taken into consideration. (PNA)