70,000 households in rural S’wak supplied with electricity

BARIO: About 70,000 households in the interior of Sarawak have received electricity supply by the government since seven years ago, thus resulting in 86.4 per cent of the areas being furnished with electricity through various alternatives.

Minister of Public Utilities Dato Sri Stephen Rundi Utom said the state’s Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (SARES) had identified 48 other villages to be provided with electricity supply this year.

He said this was a part of the government’s initiative to provide electricity amenities to about 40,000 more households in the area.

According to Rundi, in shouldering an immense and challenging responsibility of providing amenities while fulfilling the needs of the people, the government has to find the best alternatives to ensure sufficient facilities are made available to the people.

“We view the needs of the people as a big challenge because it requires substantial funds and adequate infrastructure to enable us to fulfill the needs of the Sarawak people, especially for those in the outback areas,” he said at the launching ceremony of the Bario Central Solar Hybrid Power Station at the grounds of the power station located in the Kelabit Highlands, here yesterday.

Rundi said the government is beginning to study the use of mini-hydro as

an alternative power source before looking into the prospective use of wind power, and is currently presenting the prospect of solar power to supply electricity to communities in remote areas that are hard to access by road.

Bario, a town well-known for its high-quality rice and located approximately 1,150 metres above sea level, is accessible through air and an arduous timber route, taking up to 12 hours of travel, while Miri is the nearest town to it.

He expressed his hopes that the RM27 million worth Bario Hybrid Solar Power Station that was funded by the Federal government would spur development in the area, especially in Bario.

According to a media statement by Sarawak Energy, the company appointed to operate and maintain the power system which currently powers over 200 households in nine villages in Bario, and with the ongoing extension work, two more villages are expected to be connected to the system; bringing the total number of households supplied by the system to over 300.

Supply will soon be extended to more government facilities like the clinics, immigration office, airport, sub-district office and two primary school.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy Group CEO, Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit said the construction of the power system in Bario began in 2010 and was first commissioned in September last year before it was handed to Sarawak Energy last June.

He said the Bario community now enjoys 24-hour supply of affordable and renewable electricity through the completion and the commissioning of the 887 kilowatt Solar Hybrid Power System, the biggest solar project to date, of the government’s alternative rural electrification initiative in Sarawak.

“At least 70 per cent of the energy derived from the system is solar power, while the remaining is from diesel generation,” he said in his speech, which was translated to Kelabit language by Mulu Assemblyman Dato Gerawat Jala at the event.

SARES was recently introduced by the Sarawak government with the aim to build a system based on solar and micro-hydro energy to power more than 300 remote villages, and has been given an allocation of RM500 million to enable its completion within five years, beginning from this year. – Bernama

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Source: http://miri.my/2016/10/28/70000-households-in-rural-s%c2%92wak-supplied-with-electricity/