A troop of monkeys congregating along the Matu and the 33/11 Daro Substation overhead lines

KUCHING: Wildlife disturbances, especially monkeys, have been found to be the main cause of power supply interruptions in rural areas, said Sarawak Energy.

A monkey found on the 11kV overhead line near Sg Selidap in Bintangor

“Disturbance caused by wildlife is one of the challenges faced by our operations team when serving the rural areas and the interior,” said the vice-president for distribution Yusri Safri, in a statement yesterday.

Describing the disturbance as a unique factor, Yusri said since January this year, Sarawak Energy’s Central Region covering Sibu and its surrounding areas recorded 19 cases of wildlife presence on power lines.

Thus, the power outage plunged people living in Mukah, Dalat, Matu, Bintangor and Sarikei into darkness.

“On March 27 at about 6pm, a troop of monkeys perching on high voltage overhead lines of Matu-Daro also caused a power interruption affecting supply to villages in the area.

“About 1,100 customers at Kampung Tian, Kampung Berjaya, Kampung Sekaan Kecil, Kampung Sekaan Besar, Matu Bazaar, Kampung Sok and Kampung Jemoreng were affected.

“Power supply to the affected areas was fully restored at 6.18pm, about 20 minutes later,” he explained.

Three days later, he noted, a similar incident occurred in Dalat and parts of Judan.

“The power interruption which happened at 12.48pm was caused by an electrocuted monkey. The technical team found the carcass on one of the power poles. Power was fully restored at 1.34pm,” he added.

Yusri also said that the technical team was looking into ways to mitigate the situation, including changing from bare conductors to covered conductors.

“This will reduce animal related outage incidents and is also a sustainable approach to wildlife management in these areas but this will be carried out in phases.

“While we can immediately deploy a technical team to restore supply to our customers after a tripping incident, it is unfortunate to see these animals electrocuted by the high voltage,” he expressed.

He added that before a line was re-energised, the technical team needed to patrol the affected lines to ensure all safety precautions are considered, which included the possibility of fallen lines or poles along the stretch.

“It is our responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone near our electrical facilities and we take this very seriously.

“For longer overhead lines, it might take some time to patrol, especially when it happens at night, under extreme weather or areas with difficult terrain. 

“I hope customers can understand the challenges we faced. Nevertheless, we are still committed to do our best to minimise the interruption time,” assured Yusri.

Customers can contact Sarawak Energy’s 24/7 Customer Care Centre at 1300-88-3111 or email to customercare@sarawakenergy.com for assistance. Outages can also be reported through Sarawak Energy’s mobile app “SEB cares”, available on Android’s Google Play Store as well as Apple App Store for IOS.