Major Effort To Minimise Outages In Kuching

Critical Package of 500kV Second Transmission Backbone near Completion

Contractors urged to call SEB Cares line before digging works to avoid cable damage and outage

KUCHING, 9TH JUNE 2017, Friday: Sarawak Energy acknowledges the public’s concern over the frequent outages experienced by residents of Kuching City over the past few months, and is intensifying efforts to minimise both local and transmission-line related outages through a broad series of initiatives.

“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused by these outages. We are stepping up our efforts to minimise the risk of these incidents as well as the duration of outages when they occur,” said Sarawak Energy’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Encik Sharbini Suhaili.

Sarawak Energy is investing significantly in technology, back-up supply and infrastructure for a more modern, efficient and reliable power system, and is calling on the public through outreach campaigns for additional assistance and cooperation to curb incidents of outage. In addition, its technical teams are on high alert and on 24-hour standby for immediate restoration during both localised and major outages. The focus is to restore supply to customers in the fastest possible time, using alternative feeder or supply sources if applicable, before concentrating on repair works.

Kuching City experienced three outages caused by tripping incidents along the Kemena-Bintulu transmission line in the past month. Due to Sarawak Energy’s preparatory measures taken following last year’s tripping incidents, restoration of supply was able to commence almost immediately with no disruption of supply to critical facilities such as hospitals and the airport.

Investigations are ongoing to determine the exact cause but preliminary investigations indicate that external transient factors are behind the trips. Sarawak Energy’s technical team is closely and proactively monitoring this stretch of transmission line which is between 25 to 30 years old, conducting more frequent regular thermal scanning, vegetation management and scheduled line inspections.

“The critical parts of the 500kV Transmission should be completed by the end of June, providing an alternative to the vulnerable section of the State grid, particularly the Bintulu-Kemena-Oya-Selangau line where the recent trips have occurred, and minimising the risk of major outages in the south,” said Sharbini.

“Until the actual cause of the tripping is identified, we will continue to run our back-up diesel supply in Kuching to cater for the load demand in case of another transmission line trip along this older line,” he explained.

In 2013, Sarawak Energy embarked on the 500kV Second Backbone Transmission Grid – a massive state infrastructure upgrading project costing RM2.7 billion. Once completed, the reliability of Sarawak’s electricity supply will be strengthened by providing additional circuits or lines parallel to the existing 275kV transmission line connecting major power stations to load centres in southern Sarawak to solve the current system constraints. The 500kV project has experienced a delay in completion due to land disputes and wayleave issues along its 600km route.

Appeals have been made to land claimants to ensure the timely completion of this crucial state infrastructure project. Notices have also been issued to contractors working within the vicinity of the line, advising them to exercise extra caution when implementing works in the area.

Sharbini further explained that Sarawak Energy is also continuing its efforts to upgrade the power system and infrastructure across Sarawak, with even more initiatives to improve maintenance and vegetation management.

“We are investing almost RM7million for alternative supply and to effectively manage the restoration time for localised outages - RM3.8 million to purchase 14 mobile generator sets together with the vehicles with a capacity ranging from 150kVA to 500kVA with another 3 sets of 500kVA mobile generators costing RM2.5 million also in the planning,” Sharbini said.

About RM300 million is spent every year to reinforce and strengthen the distribution system. Out of this amount, RM250 million is dedicated to build new distribution substations and new lines, and to upgrade heavily loaded transformers and overhead lines. Another RM50 million is spent per year for basic substation and overhead line maintenance including vegetation clearing.

Localised outages within Kuching have been caused by a variety of factors.

“Within Kuching, there were nine incidents of localised outages caused by third party contractors’ excavation works alone, that caused extensive damage to the system. We are looking at this abnormal trend seriously and have mobilised our resources to go to the ground to do more patrols along the cable route areas.

“We are also urging contractors to be cautious. Other than sending out public service announcements on “call before you dig” messages through the mass media, we have also taken the initiative to distribute leaflets to contractors at construction sites and organised safety briefings to public contractors,” he added.

”There were also a number of incidents where fallen trees caused by strong winds damaged power lines, affecting power supply to several areas.”

“We take what we do very seriously and have set stringent targets for our people to meet. To make this happen, we continue to seek cooperation from members of the public. I would like to thank our customers for their patience,” said Sharbini.

How Customers Can Help:

  • Trim your plants so trees and shrubs do not touch overhead lines. For safe trimming, call our Customer Care Centre
  • Prevent cable theft by calling the police if there are suspicious-looking people near power facilities.
  • Call before you dig around your property to avoid damaging the underground cables which may cause power outage. 
  • Check your electrical wiring periodically in your home or business premises 
  • Call 1300-88-3111 or report to “SEB cares” mobile app immediately if you are experiencing a power outage or see any faulty or sparking cables.



Sarawak Energy’s Group Chief Executive Officer Encik Sharbini Suhaili

The transmission line

Leaflet distributed on “Call before you dig”