Renewable solar energy lights up 8 remote Baram villages

Stephen (standing, fifth left) receives the SARES key from Aisah as Gerawat (standing fourth left), Anyi (standing sixth left), Alice (standing tenth left), Dennis (11th left) and others look on. Also seen are the community leaders from the eight villages holding up their handover certificates.

MIRI, March 3: About 2,400 residents from 365 households in Baram from Long Tepen, Long Lunyim, Long Julan, Long Silat, Long Pejawai, Long Dunin, Long Nuah and Long Aton now have access to reliable and renewable 24-hour electricity supply thanks to the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (SARES).

According to a press release, under the community-based SARES programme, the Ministry of Utilities, Sarawak Energy and these eight remote communities from the Telang Usan and Beluru areas worked together to build solar systems for their respective villages, chosen due to the challenge of connecting them to the grid.

A handover ceremony was held in Long Silat, Baram on Feb 28 to commemorate the completion of the projects and the lighting up of the eight villages.

Minister for Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom officiated with State Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker and Mulu assemblyman Datuk Gerawat Gala in attendance. Also present were Baram MP Anyi Ngau; Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau; Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Utilities Dato Alice Jawan, representatives from relevant agencies and community leaders.

Representing Sarawak Energy was Corporate Services executive vice-president Aisah Eden.

Speaking at the event, Dr Rundi said: “Energy powers development and the state government wants to bring progress to all our rural communities by ensuring they have access to constant 24-hour electricity supply.

“Sarawak is on track to achieving 100 per cent electricity coverage by 2025. Despite the unique challenges of our sparsely dispersed rural population who live across the state in mountainous regions or the remote headwaters of our rivers, we have still been able to achieve rural electrification coverage of 90 per cent.

“With the innovative SARES programme undertaken under a tripartite partnership of my Ministry, Sarawak Energy and the communities themselves, we hope to light up the remaining most remote communities in the state.”

Villagers from Long Tepen, Long Lunyim, Long Julan, Long Silat, Long Pejawai, Long Dunin, Long Nuah and Long Aton in Baram now have access to reliable and renewable 24-hour electricity supply under SARES.

The RM500 million scheme aims to electrify 8,700 households overall by 2020, located in remote areas including Ulu Skrang, Katibas, Nanga Merit, Bukit Mabong, Tinjar, Long Bedian, Telang Usan, Bario, Julau, Tatau, Sungai Gaat, Sungai Pila and Medamit.

Each project involves the construction of standalone alternative systems, utilising micro-hydro or solar technologies. Since its launch in 2016, more than 2,000 households in 90 villages have been electrified through this.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy group chief executive officer Sharbini Suhaili said: “Due to advancements in alternative energy technology, we are able to support the state government’s initiative to provide 24-hour electricity supply to villages that are too distant to connect to the main electricity grid.

“The SARES system can meet basic household electricity needs with lighting, fans, a television, a freezer and a cooker which were previously powered through diesel-powered generator sets. With this, the communities take ownership of the systems and do not have to pay for the electricity that they consume and are no longer wholly dependent on diesel. On top of that, the systems are simple in design without any compromise on safety.” — DayakDaily