KUCHING, June 29: Sarawak Energy Berhad aims to light up 200 more households in the mountainous Limbang division by end of 2021 and a further 866 households by 2023.
The company in a statement today said since 2009, about 18,000 rural households have been connected to reliable electricity supply in the mountainous Limbang division through the simultaneous implementation of the Rural Electrification Scheme (RES) and Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (SARES).
“This includes about 250 households in the hinterland which have been given access to 24-hour electricity under SARES, a sustainable stop-gap initiative to power up the most remote households with no road access, whilst conventional electrification via the grid makes its way to them.
“By the end of 2021, almost 200 more households in the division will be connected to the grid, including about 120 households recovered from projects left abandoned by a previous contractor since 5 years ago.
“By 2023, a further 866 households will have access to reliable 24-hour electricity to achieve full electrification for the entire division,” it said.
Such effort was part of the Sarawak government’s effort in delivering rural electrification projects to ensure access to reliable and affordable electricity supply for the whole of Sarawak by 2025 including residents of rural Northern Sarawak.
Electricity supply connection was through extension of the grid system for rural areas with road accessibility under RES, establishing localised micro-grids under hybrid system for larger communities distant from the main grid; and smaller standalone solar power systems for the most remote areas through SARES.
Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom stated that about 45 per cent of Sarawakians live in longhouses, kampongs or smaller town in rural areas.
“Following the development of the Projek Rakyat initiative to accelerate the Rural Electrification Master Plan 2018, we have been able to really step up on our electrification efforts.
“We are thankful to the Sarawak government and the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg that our plan has been supported with an allocation of RM2.37 billion to cover rural transmission and distribution projects as well the implementation of SARES in distant villages.
“Rural electrification coverage in Sarawak has risen to 95 per cent in 2020 and is expected to reach 97 per cent in the coming months,” he pointed out.
Despite the many challenges which include logistics due to area remoteness, wayleave issues, acceptance from villagers and the current global Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Rundi assured the public that his Ministry, working closely with SEB, remains committed to ensuring that rural Sarawak will have access to 24-hour reliable and affordable electricity.
Kota 2 mini hydro power plant with 10.5MW capacity in Lawas
Meanwhile, SEB Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Sharbini Suhaili mentioned that his team had commissioned a new Kota 2 mini hydro power plant in Lawas, a run-of-river scheme with a total installed capacity of 10.5MW in July 2020.
“This has boosted our generation capacity and reduced the dependence on diesel power generation in northern Sarawak pending the completion of our Extra High Voltage or EHV transmission projects to connect Limbang and Lawas to our main electrical grid. Our team is also enhancing and reinforcing the electrical distribution system in the area.
“While the current restrictions under the nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO) have presented uncertainties and challenges to safe and timely work progression, works in the area are moving under full compliance with the relevant standard operating procedures (SOP) and stringent in-house Covid-19 precautionary measures,” he added.
MVCC to connect Lawas town to rural Ba Kelalan
SEB also informed that a new distribution system technology known as the Medium Voltage Covered Conductor (MVCC) has been adopted to connect Lawas town under the Limbang division to rural Ba Kelalan taking into account the area’s harsh geographical conditions.
The first phase of the project has commenced and the implementation shall be synchronised with the commissioning of the new Lawas Town Extra High Voltage substation in 2022.
MVCC is able to withstand momentary contact with crops or vegetation without causing interruptions and this will help in strengthening supply reliability.
The communities in Ba Kelalan, located about 8 hours from Lawas town by uneven gravel roads and old logging tracks, engage mostly in farming and agricultural activities supplemented by homestay businesses run by locals.
However due to the distance from the towns, communities are rarely able to market their produce. The lack of electricity also means that the processing of the ‘Adan’ rice and highland salt is either done manually or powered by diesel generators which can only run for limited times.
With steady electricity supply by 2023, residents can have access to refrigeration as well as modern machinery that can boost productivity. — DayakDaily