Thursday, June 4

EIA report for coal-fired plant likely in March

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KOTA KINABALU: The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report on the controversial proposed coal-fired plant is expected to be out this March, ending the wait of Sabahans and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) concerned with the environmental risks to the surrounding areas.“We are waiting for the EIA report, which according to Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB), will come out some time in March,” Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman told reporters after launching the Energy Efficiency Seminar and Expo organised by SESB here yesterday.

Environmentalists such as the Green Surf group have opposed the use of coal, which is considered dirty energy, and have repeatedly asked the government to drop the plan for a coal-fired plant.

The government has identified Felda Sahabat, Tungku near, Lahad Datu as the location for the 300-megawatt plant pending the EIA.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui, who was present at the event, said in his visit to Sandakan Thursday, he saw how the east coast has developed and changed a lot over the years with more commercial premises coming up, thus the need to provide sufficient electri­city supply for that area.

He said although the government was considering other alternatives like biomass plants, these still needed to be tested on a larger scale and the 300-megawatt plant proposed was required to provide enough electricity supply for the entire east coast.

At present, the electricity supply capacity in the east coast is 200 megawatts, generated by plants using diesel as its source.

On another matter, Chin also expressed surprise that the Sarawak government has classified the exploitation of coal as a “renewable energy” initiative, saying that commonly coal is not treated as “renewable”.

“I just read about it… (I will look into it) as why it is being treated as renewable resource,” he said when asked to comment on the exploitation and mining of 1.156 billion tonnes of coal reserves in the neighbouring state, mentioned as part of Sarawak’s renewable energy projects.

Mark Bujang, director of Sarawak-based environmental watchdog group The Borneo Resources Institute, in a report on Wednesday had asked for justification from the state government which included the mining of coal as part of the multibillion-ringgit projects to be carried out under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative.

Earlier, Chin and Musa witnessed the signing of a power purchase agreement between SESB and SPR Energy (M) Sdn Bhd, an independent power producer (IPP) of a 100-megawatt plant in Kimanis under the Sabah Oil and Gas Terminal initiative.

This was the eighth agreement with IPPs in the State since the corporatisation of electricity generation started in 1998, and the IPP plant in Kimanis is expected to be operational by 2013, said SESB managing director Baharin Din. — Bernama