‘Govt committed to providing adequate, reliable, affordable electricity statewide’

Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Nov 12: Minister of Utilities Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said the state government would ensure there is adequate, reliable and affordable power supply in the state through prudent planning and implementation of energy resources and infrastructure.

“In order for the state to become a developed state by 2030, Sarawak must also be committed to increasing the standard of living of the rural folks. There is also a strong positive correlation between economic growth and power demand,” he said in his winding-up speech today.

Towards this end, he told the august House that new strategies and unconventional out-of-the-box approaches were being explored to accelerate electricity supply to the rural areas and to realise the vision of full coverage in the state by 2025.

“Since the implementation of the NKRA (National Key Results Area) in 2009, another 115,000 rural households have been supplied with 24-hour electricity, bringing the coverage in the rural areas to 91 per cent.”

He added that under the Sarawak Rural Electrification Master Plan, the state targets to achieve full 24-hour electricity coverage through the implementation of various strategies.

“These strategies in the master plan include 33kV and below distribution grid extension, l32kV and above transmission grid extension, and off-grid stand-alone renewable system (Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme or Sares).”

Dr Rundi said the preference was through grid connections for long-term reliable and sustainable supply connection, where land accessibility is available or likely to be completed in the near future.

“The stand-alone Sares system is only for the remotest areas unreachable by the grid.”

He disclosed that under the master plan, the implementation of these strategies required a total of RM3.22 billion for full electrification by 2025.

“A special allocation RM2.37 billion has been approved by the state government for 2019 and 2020. This will increase the rural household electrification coverage from 91 to 97 per cent.”

For those rural areas already supplied with electricity through these strategies, there were still late applicants whose houses are not completed yet and new houses were being built after the projects have been completed that will require connection of electricity supply.

“The number of these additional or late applicants is growing rapidly statewide, posing a big challenge for my ministry to manage. These applicants are also considered in the master plan for connection of supply under the Additional or Late Applicant Fund (ALAF) and will continue until full electrification is achieved before 2025.”

He is optimistic that despite uncertainties and reduction in federal allocations, the state government was committed to achieving full electricity coverage by 2025 with its own funds.

Dr Rundi also revealed that the current total grid generation installed capacity statewide is 4,641 megawatt (MW) to meet the peak demand of 3,623 MW. — DayakDaily