SIBU: Some 42,000 households or 189,000 residents in Sarawak’s interior will be supplied with electricity by the end of the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP), with the government embarking on four initiatives to light up the rural areas.
Public Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi said the required allocation to supply electricity throughout the
state through grid connection and alternative schemes by 2025 is estimated to cost RM8 billion.
“If there is the allocation it is not an obstacle, the state government desires to achieve the goal by 2025. The vastness of Sarawak coupled with its geographical factors like hilly terrain and scattered population pose a major challenge to supply electricity to interior areas.
“In this respect, survey and study are being implemented to develop these areas. Nevertheless, the government has four initiatives; namely Rural Electricity Supply Project (BELB) through distribution grid connection, Rural Power Supply Scheme (RPSS) through transmission grid connection, Alternative Rural Electrification Project (Hybrid) and Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) to supply these areas with electricity,” Dr Rundi told The Borneo Post, adding this was subject to distance from the grid and existing road connectivity.
He disclosed that the overall electricity coverage in Sarawak was currently around 91 per cent, with 82.5 per cent of rural areas already covered.
He expected the remaining 17.5 per cent of rural areas without coverage yet to be supplied with power through the grid.
Dr Rundi, who is Kemena assemblyman, said the alternative Hybrid scheme and Sares are systems that are not connected to the grid.
For the grid connection scheme, he added, the government had allocated RM2,922 million for the period between 2009 and 2016.
As for the alternative system, he said RM818 million had been allocated for the Hybrid system for 2009 to 2016.
“For the period of 11MP, RM1,355 million has been allocated by the government, while Sares had been allocated RM500 million for the period 2016 to 2020,” Dr Rundi added.
Since the implementation of NKRA (National Key Result Areas) in 2009 till end of 2015, a total of 66,000 households or 297,000 folks in all rural areas in Sarawak had enjoyed electricity supply through the grid connection scheme and alternative systems.
He pointed out that areas in the hinterlands which do not have road connection will be supplied power through Hybrid and Sares.
Hybrid projects will be funded by the federal government, while Sares will be (jointly) funded by the state government (54 per cent) and federal government (46 per cent), he added.
Concerning Hybrid, he said this system will be developed in places which are populous and implemented by contractors appointed by the federal government.
He added that consumers would be charged for usage according to Sesco’s rates and there is no limit to usage.
However, in remote interior areas where the population is scattered, he said the community-based Sares will be used as this system will be operated by the residents.
He said Sares will be implemented by Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) and residents would not be required to pay for its usage.
Under Sares which can only power up lamps, fans, refrigerators and televisions and other simple applications, he said residents will be given training on the basic operation.
“Up until now, 1,049 households and 6,136 residents have enjoyed electricity supply through the alternative system like in Long Banga through mini hydro; Bario through solar and several more places throughout the state,” Dr Rundi noted.
He acknowledged that many agencies had implemented solar and hydro systems as pilot projects and research.
Thus, the government through Ministry of Public Utilities was making efforts to obtain all information and to coordinate these projects and enter them into the ministry’s data for future planning, he added.
“The government has outlined the implementation methods for projects to suit areas which will be developed. For solar projects and also hydro, the government has introduced Sares implementation method and Hybrid to overcome problems encountered.”
He assured that SEB has the skills and expertise to implement, manage and regulate electricity supply in Sarawak.-BP