Saturday, December 7, 2013

Baleh, Baram next in line

by Peter Sibon & Lian Cheng, Posted on December 7, 2013, Saturday

SEB waiting for state’s green-light to implement Baleh, Baram HEP projects

KUCHING: Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) is ready to build both the Baram hydroelectricity power (HEP) and Baleh HEP dams by end of next year, says its chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit.

He said SEB would be able to implement both HEP projects by end of next year after viability studies were completed.

“We will see the viability of both Baram and Baleh HEP projects by end of next year. At the same time, we are also looking at Pelagus, Belaga and Limbang HEP projects as well,” Torstein told The Borneo Post on the sidelines of SEB’s Media Appreciation Dinner at a leading hotel here Thursday evening.

He was asked to comment on SEB’s next projects after the completion of the Murum HEP project.

However, Torstein said the State Government will have the final say on which to implement first.

“We are working on all the projects but which project will go first will be the decision of the State Government,” he said.

The RM4-billion Murum HEP has a capacity of 944 MW. Construction of the dam begun on Oct 1, 2008 and its impoundment was carried out on Sept 21 this year. The dam would be able to generate power a year after the impoundment.

When contacted, both Baleh and Telang Usan assemblymen; Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing and Dennis Ngau respectively, supported the implementation of the Baleh and Baram hydro electric power projects.

“Once SEB says that Baleh HEP is technically possible then it should go ahead because Baleh is socially possible as no resettlement is required.

“Baleh people welcome the construction of Baleh HEP Dam. They can see the benefits of Baleh HEP not only for the people of the region but for Sarawak as a whole,” said Masing who is also a Minister of Land Development.

Dennis concurred with Masing saying that the majority of the Baram communitywanted the dam to be built as proven in the recent meeting by group of elders from the area with Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud during the last State Legislative Assembly sitting.

“The community leaders see that this is the only opportunity for Baram to be developed. We urged the government to go ahead with the construction of the Baram Dam HEP project soonest possible.

“We don’t want to miss the chance as the majority of the Baram people want development. The dam project especially the development of Bandar Baru Telang Usan located at the Ulu Baram will provide that opportunity,” added Dennis.

On the electricity tariff in the state Torstein refused to comment when he was asked whether SEB would hike the present tariff of 29.9 sen per kilowatt hour (kWh) following the tariff increase by Tenaga Negara Bhd (TNB) to 38.53 sen in the Peninsula, Sabah and Labuan.

“It’s the decision of the State Government. As of now we have no plan to hike the tariff,” he said.

Recently, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili announced that starting next year the electricity tariff in the Peninsula will increase by 14.9 per cent or 4.99 sen to 38.53 while the increase in Sabah and Labuan will be five sen.

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