Mini dams not practical for Sarawak, SEB tells Tun Mahathir



KUCHING: Sarawak is able to build mini dams instead of mega dams, however, it will cost electricity consumers a minimum of RM1 per kilowatt per hour, compared with the current rate of RM0.28.

Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) outgoing chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjøtveit said the idea of building mini dams is not practical, as it will burden the people and turn away industrial investments.

“If we were to build small dams, we would no longer be able to supply reliable and affordable energy.

The people will be burdened with high electric bills, and industrial investments will not come in due to the higher cost of energy.

“With fewer industrial projects in the state, there will be fewer job opportunities, smaller incomes and thus, the whole of society would be affected,” he said.

One of the objectives of the SEB, said Sjøtveit, is to provide reliable, competitively-priced energy to support the economic and social development of Sarawak.

“Of course it’s possible for us to build mini dams throughout the state if (the people are) willing to pay the bill,” he stressed.

Apart from that, Sjøtveit said, mini dams are unable to supply reliable energy, as they would depend on rivers, and have no reservoirs.

Therefore, people could not expect 24-hour electricity supply. “This is something (some NGOs) don’t tell (consumers).

So, I’m sorry to Dr. M, but such an idea wouldn’t work here,” he said, referring to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Mahathir has suggested that the Sarawak government look into building small dams instead of mega dams, which will destroy the environment.

Sjøtveit was speaking at his farewell lunch with the media at SEB tower here.

After serving as CEO for the utilities company for seven years, he will be replaced by Sharbini Suhaili, former Petronas group vice-president for health, safety, security and environment.

Sjøtveit’s contract expires at the end of this month and he plans to return and reunite with his family in Oslo, Norway.

“My family will be welcoming a new member, my third grandchild, a girl, on Saturday.

“So, I wish to see her as soon as possible. I wish to take a rest after working and be with my family and friends after working abroad for so many years. The main thing I will miss about Sarawak is its laksa,” he said. - NST

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