KUCHING: The performance of Sarawak’s electricity supply reliability has improved significantly from an average duration of 419 minutes per year per customer in 2002 to 168 minutes last year.
This was based on measurement carried out by internationally accepted performance benchmark, System Average Interruption Duration Index (Saidi), which measures the average number of minutes each connected customer is without electricity in a year, said Public Utilities Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan in his winding-up speech yesterday.
“Compared to countries with more or less similar network system, the state compares well with South Australia and Tasmania at 174 and 192 minutes per customer per year respectively,” he told the State Legislative Assembly.
The measures undertaken by Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) to ensure continuous improvements and reliability of power supply were investment of RM7.7 billion for the upgrading and improvement of the state’s generation, transmission and distribution systems between 2009 to 2013.
Another RM8 billion was invested for the upgrading and improvement of the generation, transmission and distribution systems planned for implementation from 2014 to 2018, and doubling the length of transmission network, including the 500kV State Transmission Backbone project.
“SEB is self-funded. It needs to be financially strong to sustain its operational improvement,” said Awang Tengah, who also stressed that if tariffs were slashed by 30 per cent as called for by the DAP through its tariff reduction campaign, this would result in financial deficit and SEB would not be able to undertake system improvement, maintenance and upgrading work.
Meanwhile, Awang Tengah chided the DAP for claiming to have integrity in their signature campaign.
He said the result from the campaign was far from the truth.
“When the state embarked to develop hydro projects such as Bakun, Murum and other dams, DAP persistently opposed and reasoned that there would be excess capacity for local demand.
“They refused to acknowledge large demands from investors setting up their energy intensive industries in Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) areas.”
However, he stressed that the state government remained steadfast that hydro development, besides ensuring the success of the broader SCORE agenda, would contribute towards electricity tariff stabilisation for local consumers.
“This strategy in hydropower investment has shielded the state from the forces of rising fossil fuel prices that are skyrocketing electricity tariff globally.”
Awang Tengah also pointed out that the state had been successful in attracting industries that were energy and capital intensive, both foreign and local, by providing wholesale pricing of bulk energy.
“There are now 12 SCORE customers committed to take up 20,000GWh (3,300MW installed capacity) or 10-fold the present local industrial consumptions.
“Each SCORE customer, on the average, consumes 800 times more than each local industrial customer. Thus, electricity tariff for bulk customers is competitive,” he explained, adding that there is no subsidy for SCORE customers.
“Bulk energy for SCORE customers was priced without increasing electricity tariff for local consumers.”