KOTA KINABALU: The government says it will not be considering any move to raise electricity tariff rates in Sabah until the power supply situation stabilises and power failures reduced in the state.Announcing this here yesterday, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui said to reduce the financial burden of Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB), the government will also provide assistance to ensure that SESB can continue to carry out its operations and provide electricity supply effectively.
“This is a government decision at Cabinet level. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak himself has made it a point that the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) which is the index for the number of minutes of interruption that is experienced by a consumer, will be reduced from the present high level of 2,870 minute/consumer annually to 700 minute/consumer annually by the end of this year.
“This is a drastic reduction. Until we are able to achieve that, the government has promised that the electricity rates will not be increased,” he said following the launching of a energy related seminar and expo here yesterday.
In December, Chin had said a new electricity tariff rate might be introduced in January if the Cabinet approves it as the rate is due for revision every six months in line with the price of oil.
Nevertheless, Chin said there was no guarantee that the tariff rates in Sabah, the lowest in Malaysia and unchanged in the last 23 years, would remain at the present rates in view of the increasing price of power generation.
Asked on why there had been no change in the problem of power supply in Sabah, Chin said that investments in electricity in Sabah had been low in the past and the state was still using old systems involving inefficient generators and high cost.
“About 49 per cent of power supply in Sabah is generated from small power plants that use diesel or medium fuel oil (MFO) as fuel sources. The plants are older than 20 years, economically not viable and with reduced capacity.
“Now you can see we have been talking about changing the system from diesel or MFO to either gas or like in the west coast case, we are proposing coal which is more efficient and less costly,” he said.
“All these need time, two to five years for any plant to put up, there is a time lapse and if we don’t have prior investments, then we will have this situation. Of course now we are catching up and putting more and more investments,” he explained.
Earlier, Chin also witnessed the signing of a Sale and Purchase Agreement between Tenaga and SESB and SPR Energy Sdn Bhd.
He said during the pro-gramme where consumers with monthly electricity bill of less than RM20 were exempted from paying from October 2008 till November last year, the government had cleared a payment of RM9.94 million with a total of 782,773 consumers in Sabah gaining from the programme. —Bernama