Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Tun Openg (standing first row, seventh left) flanked by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing (on his left) and Sarawak Energy chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi together with heads of government departments and agencies and other dignitaries at the Baleh HEP site office in Kapit before his visit to the dam site yesterday. The Baleh HEP, when commissioned by 2026, will boost the state’s electricity generation.

BALEH: Energy for running agricultural industries and other industries is crucial to the overall development of Sarawak’s economy, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He pointed out that with the takeover of the Bakun Hydroelectric Project (HEP) from the federal government and power generation from the Batang Ai, Murum and later Baleh dams, the state would have complete control over its power production.

“Being in control will enable the state to determine its power tariffs and make it easier to devise incentives to attract foreign investments,” he said after being briefed on the progress of Baleh HEP at the project site in Ulu Baleh yesterday.

Abang Johari (centre, front) being briefed on the progress of Baleh HEP at the project site in Ulu Baleh.

Abang Johari pointed out that the future of Sarawak’s sustainable energy lay in hydropower generation.

“Once Baleh HEP is fully commissioned by 2026, we will have sufficient energy to cater to the anticipated rapid growth in organic and industrial demand for electricity. We can achieve our ambition to become a high income economy by 2030.

“Baleh HEP, when commissioned, will join Sarawak’s stable of hydropower plants that includes Batang Ai, Murum and Bakun and strengthen our aspiration to become a regional powerhouse of renewable and affordable energy,” he added.

The chief minister stressed that the government would ensure that people in the locality enjoy the benefits of being near to a power source. They would have electricity in their homes and for their agricultural use.

“We have learnt from our mistakes such as in Batang Ai where people in the immediate vicinity of the dam were bypassed by the power supply,” he said.