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SESB must generate 70% of Sabah’s power before discussing renewables

16 Sept 2023

By Wartawan Nabalu News

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) needs to generate at least 70 per cent of Sabah’s baseload power demand before the state can start exploring renewable energy options, said its chairman Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau.

He said SESB, which currently generates only 20 per cent of the baseload power, has to depend on independent power producers (IPPs) for the rest of the supply, which often leads to frequent power disruptions in the state.

“We must first solve the power disruption problem. To do this, SESB must generate its own electricity because we need to have control. Currently, SESB is not allowed to operate (power plants), but SESB was the one conducting studies for projects such as the Padas Dam, Liwagu Dam, and a coal power plant in Lahad Datu; but at the end of the day, the projects were either cancelled or given to others to operate,” he told Scoop in an interview.

“Why not hand it to SESB? Trust SESB. SESB has over 300 capable engineers, we have the assets,” he added.

Madius, who is also the Tuaran MP, said he has held dialogue sessions with state and federal representatives in Sabah to garner support for SESB’s proposals for future power generation projects.

“Their responses have been very positive so far. All of them support SESB. Moving forward, when SESB proposes a project, we hope to get support from all the parties as well as the government,” he said.

He explained that the baseload is the minimum level of demand on the grid, which must be dependable enough to consistently meet the 24-hour demand.

Madius said Sabah’s baseload power demand is currently at 1,080MW while power generated is about 1,200MW – but this cannot ensure a stable power supply as the surplus supply is insufficient to cover technical issues.

“Generally, renewables cannot contribute to the baseload as they are inconsistent. Hence, only when the baseload generation is sufficient and stable that Sabah can start venturing into renewable energy,” he said.

He also said that SESB is operating at a loss, because power purchased from IPPs is priced at RM0.43 per unit but sold to consumers at RM0.34 per unit in accordance with the tariff set by the federal government.

“SESB is currently facing a real problem – financial sustainability,” he said.

He hoped that Petronas and the Sabah government would prioritise electricity generation when it comes to natural gas distribution.


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