SARES Launched In Sarawak To Light Up Most Communities

State Government, Sarawak Energy and communities to work together for Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme - First Phase of 50 villages to be electrified in 2016

BINTULU, 9th JUNE 2016, THURSDAY: The Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme or SARES was launched today to speed up efforts towards full electricity coverage in the state by utilising renewables like solar and micro-hydro in Sarawak’s interior.

This integrated initiative of the State Government, supported by Sarawak Energy, aims to provide 24-hour electricity supply through advancements in alternative energy technology to remote communities where it is very difficult and will take significant amount of time to connect to the main electricity grid.

Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Minister of Public Utilities, launched SARES at the Sebauh Community Hall here, to set in motion the first phase of the scheme which will see the design and installation of localised off-grid solar systems to be implemented by Sarawak Energy for 50 villages slated for completion by early next year. 

These 50 villages are part of the 300 isolated villages comprising 8,700 households located in the selected cluster of communities in remote areas including Ulu Skrang, Katibas, Nanga Merit, Bukit Mabong, Tinjar, Long Bedian, Telang Usan, Bario and Mendamit in Limbang for the scheme’s implementation over the next five years through a funding of RM500million. 

Also present at the ceremony were Deputy Minister of Public Utilities Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, Deputy State Secretary Datu Ose Murang, Ministry of Public Utilities Permanent Secretary Haji Ubaidillah Haji Abdul Latip, District officer Desmond Douglas Jerukan, Sarawak Energy General Manager for Research and Development Dr Chen Shiun, representatives from relevant agencies and community leaders.

During the ceremony, Dr Rundi also witnessed the signing of letters of commitment for the implementation of SARES as part of the first phase, for 13 villages in the remotest part of Sebauh, only accessible by river. The signing was between the project implementer, Sarawak Energy, and 13 village heads, representing 170 households as a commitment for them to provide the necessary support and cooperation for the scheme’s implementation in their villages. Total cost to light up these 13 villages is around RM10million.

The 13 villages with a total population of 566 situated along Sungai Binyo are Rumah George Tg Mawang ( 15 households), Rumah Binit, Sg Penyilam (seven households), Rumah Nyipa, Lbk Bungai (14 households), Rumah Sigi, Sg Luap (nine households), Rumah Pantang (formerly Rumah Gudang) (five households), Rumah Joseph (formerly Rumah Lembang) (13 households), Rumah Edau (nine households), Rumah Peter (30 households), Rumah Irai (formerly Rumah Gasing) (29 households), Rumah Mikai (19 households), Rumah Bampi (four households), Rumah Ulu (three households) and Rumah Janting, Sg Smayong (13 households). 

In his speech, Dr Rundi said, “Sarawak is on track to achieving 100% electricity coverage despite the logistical challenges faced due to our state’s extreme rugged terrain and sparse population. It is reassuring to note that state domestic coverage is now already at 90%. With SARES we hope to light up the remotest communities in the state. This will reduce the dependency on costly diesel generators which offers only limited hours of supply, alleviating the burden of the villagers. 

“SARES is part of the state’s rural electrification masterplan which complements the present Rural Electrification Scheme (RES) and Rural Power Supply Scheme (RPSS). The simultaneous implementation of these programmes will speed up the government’s electrification plan to close the gap between rural and urban development. Electricity is a catalyst for change and this is instrumental in realising our vision to becoming a developed state.”

Dr. Rundi commended Sarawak Energy for spearheading the initiative, and working with his ministry on the shared mission to light up Sarawak with steady, reliable electricity. 

SARES, an innovative government-community partnership model, will see the mobilisation of government machinery and agencies to help villagers build and subsequently own and operate more sustainable and affordable electricity generating systems with maintenance support from the relevant agencies.

Initial focus will be on equipping households with solar systems given its easier to install. This also leverages on Sarawak Energy’s proven track record in lighting up 5 villages in rural Batang Ai through solar as part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives. Undertaken by Sarawak Energy’s Research and Development Department in cooperation with the villagers, the solar home system was first successfully implemented at Rumah Kino and Rumah Manggat in Menyang and later extended to three more villages in Nanga Jengin and Ulu Delok. Further installations are planned for 16 households at Rumah Brown, Nanga Stapang in the Engkari area by September.

Besides this, studies are also being carried out for sites with micro-hydro potential and this will engage expertise from the Public Works Department. 

SARES systems cater to typical rural household electricity needs with lighting, fans, a television, freezer and cooker and are simple in design without compromising on safety. 



    • Government funded programme – focuses on extending the distribution grid to reachable areas.
    • Government funded programme – for off-grid alternative supply schemes for over 100 isolated villages such as the Solar Hybrid System in Bario.
    • Government funded – community owned: alternative electricity generating solutions using solar or micro-hydro technology for about 300 of the most unreachable villages.
    • Integrated transmission and distribution infrastructure to connect rural areas to the state grid.
    • Sarawak Energy’s CSR programme to provide solar home system solutions for remote longhouses.

Statement issued by
Ministry of Public Utilities.

Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Minister of Public Utilities delivering his speech at the launching of SARES Phase 1 in Sebauh.

Sarawak Energy’s GM for R&D, Dr Chen Shiun handing over the Commitment Letter to Tuai Rumah George witnessed by Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom (centre), YB Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi (5th from right), Datu Ose Murang (5th from left) and others look on.

A group photo with the Minister of Public Utilities, Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom Sarawak Energy, and 13 village heads after the signing of the letter of commitment.

Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Minister of Public Utilities upon arrival at the event.