Sarawak seeks to solve issues delaying northern region electrification

Transmission line connecting Marudi junction substation.

KUCHING: The Sarawak government, through the Ministry of Utilities (MOU) and Sarawak Energy (SEB), has accelerated the pace of electrification in the state’s northern region by extending the main electrical grid.

The move, according to SEB, would strengthen supply for Limbang Division and cater to power exchange interconnection with Sabah.

However, significant challenges remained, particularly in the area of land claims, which necessitated the cooperation of all stakeholders and prompt action would be taken to address the issue.

Last week, Deputy Chief Minister, and Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources, Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, met with the MOU and SEB on consolidated strategies that would expedite electrification projects and address challenges that had delayed progress.

He was also briefed on the status of the Northern Grid Extension project and was informed of the challenges that SEB was facing in meeting project completion, including a critical portion facing significant delay — the Bunut-Medamit 275kV.

The Marudi junction 275/132/33kV substation.

“We must prioritise the Northern Grid Extension project. The people of Limbang and Lawas must be connected to the main electricity grid and benefit from a modernised electricity supply system that would only spur development in the region.

“Rest assured we are looking into the challenges and issues faced by SEB in delivering this critical project and will provide the support it needs,” said Awang Tengah.

Meanwhile, SEB said: “Rural electricity coverage for Limbang Division currently stands at 94.5 per cent with more than 18,000 households already having 24-hour electricity.

“Plans are already in place to electrify the remaining 1,071 households from 47 villages to completely cover Limbang Division.”

SEB also revealed that 35 villages along the road from Lawas to the Ba Kelalan highlands would be supplied with electricity in two stages.

“The first involves the construction of a new 80km 33KV distribution line from Lawas to Long Luping which will support the Rural Electrification Scheme for 15 villages of 281 households by end of 2022.

“The second stage involves the extension of this 33KV distribution line to Punang Kelalan in the Ba Kelalan highlands to connect 20 villages of 584 households by 2023 end and a new 33/11kV substation is also planned as a new injection point for Ba Kelalan.”

On the other hand, MOU rolled out the ALAF (Additional and Late Applicant Fund) programme to connect newer homes in villages with expanding households to the grid.

Since the programme started in 2018, about 582 homes in 133 villages in Limbang Division have been connected, with another 115 households in 24 villages currently in progress.

Deputy Transport Minister and Lawas MP Datuk Henry Sum Agong; Assistant Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister and Bukit Kota assemblyman Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, and Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang also attended the meeting.

Representing SEB were group CEO Datuk Sharbini Suhaili, executive vice-president for project delivery Ir Pramod Kumar Karunakaran, vice-president for rural electrification Dr Chen Shiun, vice-president for distribution Yusri Safri and general manager for transmission line projects Shawn Liu.