Lighting up Sarawak by 2025

RES extends grid lines into the interior by constructing electrical distribution poles and supply lines.

KUCHING: The state government, through Sarawak Energy and the Ministry of Utilities, is accelerating the delivery of rural electrification projects.

This is to ensure the delivery of reliable and affordable electricity supply to the entire state by 2025.

“More than 150,000 rural households in Sarawak have been lit up under a series of rural electrification strategies since 2009. Since then, rural electrification in Sarawak has risen to 95 percent in 2020 compared to just 56 percent in 2009 and is expected to go up to 97 percent in the coming months,” said Minister of Utilities Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.  

He also assured the public that both his ministry and Sarawak Energy were committed to ensuring rural Sarawak would have access to 24-hour reliable and affordable electricity.

“We have an effective strategy and an efficient delivery mechanism to extend existing Sarawak’s grid into the interior and for Sarawak’s most remote communities, we have the standalone off-grid solutions,” he added.

Between 2018 and 2020, approximately 340 rural households from 21 villages in Mukah, Balingian and Tanjung Manis were lit up as part of Phase 1 of the Rural Electrification Scheme or RES Last Miles initiative.

Four hundred and seventy households from 13 longhouses in Dalat, Matu and Daro will be connected to the state’s electricity grid as under Phase 2 in 2021, providing the residents with 24-hour reliable and renewable energy.

By next year, 11 villages with approximately 358 households in Ulu Dalat and Matu will be connected to the grid under Phase 3, bringing Mukah division’s rural electrification coverage to 100 percent.

“The usual challenges of rural electrification, which include logistics due to area remoteness, wayleave issues and acceptance from villagers have been compounded by the global Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions brought about by the movement control order (MCO).

“However, we are committed to delivering these rural electrification projects under full compliance with the relevant standard operating procedures and stringent in-house Covid-19 precautionary measures,” said Sarawak Energy Group chief executive officer Datuk Sharbini Suhaili.

The RES Last Miles initiative, part of the Sarawak government’s Projek Rakyat, extends grid lines into the interior by constructing electrical distribution poles and supply lines under the Accelerated Rural Electrification Masterplan.

The Rural Power Supply Scheme (RPSS) supplements RES though the construction of new transmission, distribution lines and substations in strategic rural locations, allows RES to be extended to more remote areas.

Aside from RES and RPSS, rural electrification initiatives in Sarawak include the establishment of localised micro-grids with hybrid systems for larger communities far from the main grid, as well as smaller standalone micro-hydro or solar-powered systems for the most remote areas via the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares).