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KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has finally given the Sarawak government’s approval to build the 275 megawatt hydroelectric dam on the Trusan River in Lawas.
The approval, made at Sarawak Energy Bhd’s Hari Raya gathering in Kuching yesterday, reportedly came amidst renewed interest from Brunei to buy cheap hydro electricity from Sarawak for in its territory of Temburong.
The territory is sandwiched by Limbang to the south and Lawas to the north.
Abang Johari said power generated by the Trusan dam could also be exported to Sabah as the state had also show interest to buy hydro power from the state.
While he could not say when Sarawak could start supplying Brunei with the power, Abang Johari had once said the state could do so in 2019.
The Trusan dam is relatively small compared to the state’s three mega dams – Bakun with a 2,400Mw installed capacity, Murum (944Mw) and Baleh (1,285Mw).
SEB chairman Hamed Sepawi, told reporters later the Sultan of Brunei had raised the subject of buying power with Abang Johari when the chief minister accompanied the Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud to Brunei for the sultan’s birthday celebrations last Saturday.
Hamed said he welcomed the decision on the dam as apart from earning foreign exchange, cheap hydro-generated power could help stop SEB’s financial losses in generating electricity in Limbang and Lawas.
He said SEB incurred losses of RM100 million annually subsidising consumers in Limbang and Lawas in using diesel to generate electricity.
He said the huge savings made in slashing the subsidy would be enough to justify building the dam.
Brunei reportedly had once agreed to buy 100Mw of electricity with an option to buy another 50 Mw.
The Trusan dam is one of 12 hydroelectric dams the state had proposed to build to meet the state’s projected power needs and demand of neighbours.
Earlier in his welcoming address, Hamed said SEB target to generate 7,000Mw by 2026 to meet the state’s projected demand.
He said the accelerated growth brought by power guzzling industries sited in its industrial belt known as the Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy (Score), has seen energy demand grew three-fold to just over 3,400Mw today from about 1,000Mw a decade ago. – dayakdaily.com