Another power trip, another blackout to half of Sarawak

Menara Sarawak Energy - SEB

KUCHING: Parts of Kuching and Sibu – and areas between the state’s two major major urban centres – were hit by an hour long blackout at 12.21 this afternoon which Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) said was “due to a tripping along its 275Kv Kemena-Bintulu transmission line”.

Like in previous blackouts caused by tripping on that same transmission line, the utility company’s “automatic defence system” for southern Sarawak kicked in immediately “to prevent a longer power outage”.

SEB added its back up supply from Sg Biawak diesel power station in Kuching was also “immediately mobilised” and restoration to most areas were done within half an hour.

Power was fully restored at around 1.30pm.

Despite the blackout being shorter than previous blackouts, Sarawakians living in the affected areas are getting wary of the frequency of its occurrence judging by their postings in the Facebook.

“Is this darkness at noon going to be a permanent feature in Kuching?” writer Adelheid Munan posted in her Facebook.

Others are more scarcastic, like Yen Yen’s post where she said: “Practising for the coming election”.

SEB’s Chief Operating Officer, Lu Yew Hung, has however – like always – apologised for latest blackout and “deeply regretted the inconvenience experienced by our customers”.

Lu, who said SEB is now closely monitoring the Kemena-Bintulu transmission line after the many trippings, said their first round of investigation – a thermal scanning of the line using a drone – showed “the line is still in good condition and the tripping was due to external transient factors”.

He also said a SEB inspection team had also climbed up the towers along the line to “manually check the insulators to look for minor faults that could have triggered the tripping”.

“At this point we are still not able to determine the actual cause of the tripping and further investigation is in progress.

“To ensure that we have covered all angles, we have also issued notices to contractors working within the vicinity of the lines to advise them to place extra caution when implementing works in the area.

Lu said until SEB have identified the cause of the tripping, SEB would continue to generate power from the Sg. Biawak diesel power station to meet the state’s southern region power demand.

However, Lu warned that until the 500kV second transmission line is completed, the risk of major outages due to trips of their current transmission lines remain.

“With the 500kV second line, the reliability of our electricity supply especially to the central and western regions of the state will be strengthened by providing additional circuits parallel to the existing 275kV transmission line connecting major power stations to load centres in southern Sarawak,” he said. –