While member-consumers have unanimously favored for the registration of BENECO with CDA, there is a need to consult the General Assembly on a proposal to collect 500.00 pesos as share capital. The collection will be spread in five (5) monthly billings that is to be separate from the meter bills. However, due to health protocols, the consultation is not feasible hence the period to convert may need an extension.
A Technical Working Group created to assist in BENECO’s registration with CDA, proposed in a meeting on April 22, 2021, the collection of share capital to at once create members’ equity for member-consumers. In order not to negate order of Energy Regulatory Commission, the members’ equity must not be part of the meter bill, but will be provided its equivalent share capital certificate as proof of ownership.
It is expected that on May 11, 2021, BENECO would have been converted into a real or stock cooperative with the Cooperative Development Authority. Under the Internal Rules and Regulation on electric cooperative, it only provides for registration process of existing non-stock electric cooperative with the Cooperative Development Authority. However, registration of electric cooperatives with the CDA does not automatically change the financial and structural dynamics in cooperatives, but only provides electric cooperatives the privileges granted to cooperatives registered under the Cooperative Code of the Philippines.
Historically, BENECO has not favored the registration with the CDA. The BENECO’s change of stance to register with the Cooperative Development Authority was a surprise. Its change of posture was due to ownership issue and danger of buy-out by moneyed individual on electric cooperatives having electric distribution franchise nearly to lapse. The lack of ownership of non-stock electric cooperatives could make them an easy prey by individual businessmen and corporations or players in the distribution industry. This environment is an offshoot of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.
It was on March 5, 2018, with six (6) remaining years for BENECO in its distribution franchise, it was the defining moment when Mr. Gerry Versoza, then the General Manager invited cooperative leaders and the CDA-CAR for consultative meeting. It was in the meeting that Mr. Versoza factored the remaining six years of franchise and its consequences if BENECO is not owned by the member-consumers. Hence, the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) was registered with the Cooperative Development Authority on November 11, 2020 and was given until May 11, 2021 or within six months to convert from non-stock to stock cooperative .