Eleven Remote Villages In Telang Usan Lighted Up With Renewable Solar Energy

Ministry of Utilities, Sarawak Energy and village communities to work together in community based SARES programme to light up rural Sarawak

MIRI, 14 FEBRUARY 2019, THURSDAY: Almost 5,000 residents from 556 households in 11 longhouses in Telang Usan now have access to reliable and renewable 24-hour electricity supply under SARES or the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme.

The 11 remote communities are part of 82 villages in the Baram area planned to be connected to reliable and renewable 24-hour electricity supply by 2020 via solar or micro-hydro under SARES. So far 38 communities in Baram have been connected to electricity supply.

Under the State’s Rural Transformation Initiatives, SARES is implemented by Sarawak Energy and aims to electrify Sarawak’s most remote communities through an innovative government-community partnership model. SARES is expected to electrify 8,700 households in remote villages by 2020. Launched in 2016, the RM500mil programme has accelerated electricity coverage in the state with completed projects for almost 4000 of the 8,700 households.

A handover ceremony was held in Long Nakan today to commemorate the completion of the projects and the lighting up of the 11 villages of Long Nakan, Logan Sibong, Long Ikang, Long Kerangan, Long Nen, Long Sayan, Long Kesseh, Uma Bawang, Long Kawi, Ba Kabeng and Long Itam. The communities worked together with Sarawak Energy and its contractors to build solar-powered systems for their respective villages, chosen due to the challenge of connecting them to the grid.

Each project involves the construction of standalone alternative systems, utilising solar technologies, and replace noisy and expensive diesel generator sets to meet basic household electricity needs with lighting, fans, a television, a freezer and a cooker. Once set up, the system is handed over to the community who operate and maintain it with technical support from Sarawak Energy.

Dato Sri Dr. Stephen Rundi Utom, Minister for Utilities officiated at the event, with Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, Assistant Minister for Utilities (Rural Electrification); Dennis Ngau, State Assemblyman for Telang Usan; and Anyi Ngau, Member of Parliament for Baram present.

“Today, our domestic rural population coverage is at 91%. The State Government through the Ministry of Utilities aims to increase the state-wide rural coverage to 97% by 2020 and targets towards full electrification by 2025. We hope to achieve this target with the allocation of RM2.37 billion under the Rural Electrification Master Plan that was recently approved by our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg,“ said Rundi, speaking at the event.

He continued, “Through SARES, we can progress our mission to provide electricity supply throughout Sarawak so that even the most remote household will have the convenience of 24/7 electricity. I commend the communities for their cooperation and the hard work and dedication of all other partners involved including our SARES team from the Ministry and Sarawak Energy for the successful implementation of SARES in this area.”

Also in attendance were Syed Fauzi Shahab, Director of Electricity Supply, Ministry of Utilities; and representatives from relevant agencies and community leaders.

Representing Sarawak Energy was Dr Chen Shiun (郑勲), Vice President for Rural Electrification.

Sarawak Energy Group Chief Executive Officer, Datu Sharbini Suhaili, said in commenting on the initiative, "SARES is different because it is designed to be sustainable in the longer term and involves the community from planning through to implementation. After the projects are completed and implemented, the SARES team continues to provide technical support and trains the beneficiary communities to operate and maintain the system. In the future, with infrastructure development such as roads, these longhouses will be connected to the main power grid but in the meantime, SARES enables villages that are currently located very far from the grid to be able to have access to electricity supply.”

Rundi (4th from right) together with Abdul Rahman (4th from left), Anyi (3rd from right), Dennis (3rd from left) Syed Fauzi (far right) and Chen (2nd from right) witnessing the signing ceremony commemorating the handover of the SARES solar-powered system to the 11 villages.

Rundi posing for a photo with the 11 community leaders whose villages are now lighted up with 24-hour reliable and renewable solar energy.

Rundi speaking at the SARES Handover ceremony in Long Nakan.

Rundi posing for a group photo with the attendees of the SARES handover ceremony in Long Nakan, Telang Usan.