Thursday, October 29, 2015

No need for Baram dam if locals reject it, says Sarawak energy provider

BY DESMOND DAVIDSON

Sarawak energy provider says Baram dam can be shelved if the locals are strongly against its construction. – Photo courtesy of Brimas, October 27, 2015.

Sarawak energy provider says Baram dam can be shelved if the locals are strongly against its construction. – Photo courtesy of Brimas, October 27, 2015.
Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit said the state power company could scrap the controversial Baram hydroelectric dam if the local community and politicians did not want it.
But skipping the Baram dam might just mean that the Sarawak government would move on to building another, the Baleh dam, to feed the Bornean state's energy-intensive industries.
“We don't need to build the Baram dam,” Sjotveit said at a press conference in response to questions on the moratorium over the proposed 1,300 megawatt (Mw) dam announced by Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem last July in response to strong opposition and environmental concerns.
Sjotveit was speaking to the media at the Tegulang resettlement centre for Penan tribespeople displaced by construction of another dam, the Murum hydroelectric dam.
If the Baram dam were to be scrapped, then the Sarawak government might go ahead with the construction of a another dam of similar in size to Baram, but at Baleh, Sjotveit said.
Baleh is another tributary of the Rajang – Malaysia's longest river.
Unlike Baram, where the dam would displace up to 20,000 people and submerge 400 sq km of their ancestral land and the pristine rainforest, the proposed dam at Baleh has so far met with little opposition.
Sjotveit even said Baleh, which would cost RM8 billion to build, “has strong support from the community”.
He said if the construction of the 1,300Mw dam was given approval, he estimated contracts worth up to RM4 billion could be awarded to local contractors.
“We're ready. We just need the political decision.”
The Murum dam, and the proposed Baram and Baleh dams, are part of a series of 12 dams in Sarawak meant to supply power to the state's industrial belt, the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, or Score.
A source in SEB, however, said a delay in the construction of the Baram dam, or even shelving it altogether, would not affect the company's projected power generation of 5,000Mw by the year 2020.
The source said the dams in Baleh, Bakun, Murum and SEB's second coal-fired power generating plant in Mukah, could generate a total of 5,200Mw, enough to meet electricity demand in Score, and the 14 companies, which have signed the power purchase agreements with SEB.
The Baleh dam, if it sticks to its timetable, is projected to be completed by 2018, while the 600Mw coal-fired plant in Balingian is expected to be commissioned next year. – October 27, 2015.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/no-need-for-baram-dam-if-locals-reject-it-says-sarawak-energy-provider#sthash.ey8agik5.dpuf

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