Rural electricity scheme lights up 3 longhouses in remote Baram

The solar system station at Rumah Rok, Sungai Linei, Tutoh, Baram.

MARUDI, September 7: A total of 128 households in Rumah Rok, Rumah Lajang and Rumah Asong in the remote end of Baram have taken ownership of the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) from Sarawak Energy.

The power utility said this was part of their mission to light up remote communities, together with the Ministry of Utilities and the relevant village communities. In this particular case, the three parties worked together to build alternative energy systems using solar power to the three villages.

Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker Dato Gerawat Gala, who is also Mulu assemblyman, officiated at the event in Rumah Rok on behalf of the Minister for Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom. Among those present were Baram MP Anyi Ngau, Miri Resident Sherrina Hussaini, Sarawak Energy general manager for Corporate Communications Peing Tajang and community leaders.

Gerawat thanked the ministry and Sarawak Energy for providing reliable electricity to the three longhouses despite having to face challenges working in the interior.

Gerawat (left) handing over ownership of SARES to village representatives of Rumah Rok, Rumah Lajang and Rumah Asong. Chen is standing at second left.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy vice-president (R&D) Dr Chen Shiun remarked that due to advancements in alternative energy technologies, they were able to support the state government’s initiative to provide 24-hour electricity to villages that were too far from the main electricity grid.

“Sares is a RM500 million innovative government-community partnership model that aims to electrify 8,700 households from 2016-2020, thus accelerating full coverage to the remotest parts of the state.

“Under Sares, communities take ownership of the systems and do not have to pay for the electricity they consume. They are no longer wholly dependent on expensive and noisy diesel generators, which can only run for limited hours,” he added.

The solar system station at Rumah Rok, Sungai Linei at Tutoh, Baram.

The handover ceremony was part of Phase 2 of Sares in Baram, which will electrify nine villages with renewable 24-hour electricity. Sares Phase 1 in Baram has already seen 15 villages connected.

The state-owned energy developer and power utility aims to light up 82 villages in Baram with reliable and renewable 24-hour electricity supply by 2020.

Sarawak Energy chief executive officer Sharbini Suhaili, meanwhile, said the Sares system could meet basic household electricity needs with lighting, fans, a television, a freezer and a cooker that were previously powered through diesel-powered generators.

“In addition, the systems are simple in design without any compromise on safety,” Sharbini pointed out.

Earlier this week, a Sares handover ceremony was held in Kapit where 322 households in 18 longhouses were lighted up. Five of the longhouses were in Sungai Pila, three in Sungai Gaat in Kapit and 10 in Sungai Katibas, Song.

In addition, a handover ceremony was held in Tatau District Office in August to commemorate the completion of Sares and the lighting up of 204 households in 10 villages in the area.

The rural population electricity coverage today stands at about 91 per cent, with the overall state domestic coverage at 95 per cent. In 2009, the overall state domestic coverage was only 79 per cent, and the rural population electricity coverage was only 56 per cent. — DayakDaily