State to acquire Bakun HEP from federal government?

Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg is expected to announce the ‘good news’ he promised last week at a press conference today.

Although the news was supposed to be under wraps, reliable sources have revealed through the grapevines that it would be the acquisition of the Bakun Hydroelectric Power (HEP) Dam from the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

The sources added that the state made the decision to acquire Bakun HEP from MOF during the State Cabinet meeting in August last year at the consideration sum of RM6 billion.

However, another source said the price could be RM8 billion.

While the acquisition of Bakun HEP is good news for the state, the icing on the cake for the mega transaction is that money from the state sale of the dam would be channeled back to the state to partly finance the Pan-Borneo project which is estimated to cost RM16.5 billion.

When met at his office at Bangunan Baitulmakmur here yesterday, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing said he was not aware of the possible acquisition of Bakun HEP by the state government but admitted that it had been interested to acquire the dam from MOF.

“The State Government has held talks with the Federal Government on this issue before but it did not materialised. So this latest piece of information is news to me.

Anyway, if the state is able to acquire Bakun HEP from MOF, it would be a strategic move as we are now embarking on high-intensity industry such as aluminium smelting and steel production at Samalaju Industrial Park,” said Masing.

The RM7.5 billion Bakun HEP Dam was officially connected to the State’s grid on October 6, 2011 with an initial generation of 300 megawatt (MW).

Bakun has eight turbines with each turbine capable of producing 300 MW.

Former Chief Minister Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud revealed back in 2011 that the State government, through the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), had made a proposal to the Federal Government to buy Bakun HEP Dam but the offer was rejected.

“Instead, the state government through SEB managed to secure a 30-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) on 1 June, 2011 with the Federal Government through Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd, to sell electricity from Bakun dam to the latter at 6.25 sen per kilowatt hour with an annual increase of 1.5 per cent,” Taib had told the media after his winding up speech at the DUN in 2011.

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