BALEH, July 7: The takeover of Bakun HEP from the federal government and power generation from the Batang Ai, Murum, and later Baleh, dams, will ensure Sarawak’s complete control over its power production, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said.
“Having the ease of control would enable the state to determine its power tariff and thus the ease to devise incentives to attract foreign investment,” Abang Johari said after attending a briefing on the progress of Baleh HEP project at the site.
He pointed out that this was one of Sarawak’s largest strategic infrastructure development projects which will boost renewable hydropower generation and energy security for Sarawak once it is commissioned.
Prior to his arrival at the project site, Abang Johari flew over Baleh HEP for an aerial view of the progress of the civil works for the main dam including the construction of the tunnel portal diversion, which is a significant part of the works package.
This was followed by a presentation by Baleh HEP project director Tan Hang Kiak on the milestones in the management of the project.
“Baleh HEP is our largest civil works project by a Sarawak Government-owned company and will serve as an additional milestone in the renewable energy and development strategy of Sarawak.
“Once Baleh HEP is fully commissioned by 2026, we will have sufficient energy to cater to the anticipated rapid growth in organic and industrial demand for electricity as we progress in our ambition to become a high-income economy by 2030,” he said, adding that Sarawak’s future for sustainable energy security lies in hydropower generation.
When commissioned, Baleh HEP will join Sarawak’s stable of hydropower plants that includes Batang Ai, Murum and Bakun and strengthen our aspiration to become a regional powerhouse of renewable and affordable energy.
Abang Johari gave the assurance that the state government would ensure that local people in the area would stand to enjoy the benefits of being near to the source of power with step-down facilities in order to have a supply of power to their homes and cater to the needs of agriculture.
“We have learned from our mistakes such as in Batang Ai where people in the immediate vicinity of the dam were bypassed by the power supply,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Minister of Utilities Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom also agreed that Baleh HEP is crucial in securing the energy capacity needed for the development of Sarawak.
“While we may have sufficient power for now, we need to plan and prepare for what is ahead of us in the future. Energy poverty is a major obstacle to prosperity and progress in other countries and we do not want to have this happen to Sarawak,” Rundi said.
Located on the Baleh River, about 105km upstream from the confluence with the Rejang River in Kapit, the 188m-high Concrete Faced Rockfill Baleh Dam is one of Sarawak’s largest infrastructure projects.
It is also the largest HEP developed by Sarawak Energy and will generate 1,285MW of renewable energy to the grid when it is fully commissioned by 2026.
All of Sarawak Energy’s hydropower dams are designed and constructed following stringent guidelines set by the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) to withstand extreme flood events and are also in accordance with guidelines set out by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol of the International Hydropower Association.—DayakDaily