KUCHING, 20th SEPTEMBER 2016, TUESDAY:  Sarawak Energy has received formal approval from the State Government to proceed with the Baleh Hydroelectric Power (HEP) project.

Targeted for completion in 2025, the project is set to be one of the largest infrastructure projects in Sarawak and will add an additional 1285 MW (megawatts) of renewable electricity to the state grid.

“We are pleased to announce that we have received official approval of the project from the Cabinet, following on from the approval of the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment report last year,” Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit, Sarawak Energy Group Chief Executive Officer said today. The concrete faced rock-fill dam (CFRD) will be located on the Baleh River, about 95km from its confluence with the Rajang River in the Kapit Division.

There is no resettlement involved in the development of the project.

The first of eight construction packages is expected to commence before end of the year.

In addition to business opportunities, the construction phase is projected to create about 3,500 job opportunities.

Sarawak Energy is working with the Kapit community to ensure that the benefits from the expected boom accrue to the local population.

“We have been engaging the stakeholders to understand the aspirations of the community as well as to fulfil the State development agenda. We have made comprehensive updates to the plan to maximise local content,” Torstein elaborated.

“Participation from local contractors will result in management, technology and knowledge transfer from our international contractors to build up the local capacity and capability so they can prepare for future opportunities locally and abroad.”

Sarawak Energy is sponsoring young people from Kapit for technical training at local institutions to prepare them for the job opportunities. The company also supports education programmes for schools in the area through the contribution of computers and organising  motivation workshops together with the Sarawak Teachers Training College for students and teachers.

“We have received an unprecedented level of community support for this project. We thank the State Government and the people of Kapit for their trust in us. We look forward to seeing the communities, local contractors, suppliers and service providers benefit from this,” said Torstein.

Sarawak Energy as a member of the International Hydropower Association (IHA) is committed to undertaking its projects responsibly, in a sustainable manner, in accordance with the guidelines set by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and the industry’s best practices.

Baleh will be the biggest HEP developed by Sarawak Energy and moves Sarawak further towards its ambition of achieving high income status through industrialisation by 2030.

It is the company’s second hydropower project under the SCORE initiative after the Murum HEP. Its first hydropower project was Batang Ai HEP which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015.

Since the commencement of Sarawak’s massive SCORE initiative, the state’s hydroelectric dams have provided renewable bulk power at globally competitive prices to energy intensive investors in Samalaju Industrial Park and Mukah as well as export customers.   Baleh is set to meet the anticipated strong growth in demand for electricity especially in Samalaju Industrial Park.  

Energy demand has accelerated with energy sales growing from 4,700 Gwh in 2009 to more than 20,000 Gwh in 2016.  

From 2010 to 2015, energy capacity (electricity that can be produced from power plants) increased significantly from 1300MW to 4,600MW, expected to rise to 5300MW by 2020.  About 3,000 MW has been committed to SCORE industries and export customers through 14 agreements.

Sarawak Energy Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit