Vizcaya town mayor denies US firm business permit

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BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: The local government of Alfonso Castaneda town denied the application for business-permit renewal of a US-based water and power firm because it has refused to pay its arrears in real property taxes (RPT). It owes the town a total of P1.7 billion.

The Nueva Vizcaya provincial government sent the California Energy-Casecnan Water and Energy Company (CECWEC), operator of the Casecnan dam, a final demand notice in 2015 showing that the firm owes the province P2.3 billion in RPT.

Alfonso Castañeda town Mayor Jerry Pasigian said the absence of a permit may affect the operation of the CECWEC dam.

“We are now planning the enforcement of administrative remedies to close down the Casecnan dam operation for non-payment of its RPT,” Pasigian added.

He explained that under the Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160), real property owners need to pay the annual real RPT to prevent auction of their property.

CECWEC is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co., which operates the $580-million Casecnan Multi-Purpose Irrigation and Power Project (CMIPP) in Alfonso Castañeda.

The 1990 CMIPP project under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme is a hydroelectric facility composed of a power plant and two impounding dams connected by a pair of 26-kilometer tunnels from the Casecnan and Taan rivers in the area.

It produces 100 megawatts of power for the Luzon grid and supplies an annual inflow of 800 million cubic meters of water to the Pantabangan dam irrigating some 300,000 hectares of farmlands in Central Luzon and parts of Pangasinan.

Pasigian said in 2014, CECWEC refused to pay its RPT delinquency invoking Executive Order (EO) 173 issued by then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

EO 173 required the reduction and condonation of RPT and interest/penalties assessed on power generation facilities of independent power producers under BOT contracts with government-owned and -controlled corporations.

Meanwhile, the company’s public relations department refused to comment but members of its legal team who requested not to be named for being unauthorized to speak for CECWEC, said the company is studying legal remedies regarding the matter.

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