Electrifying Sarawak’s Most Remote Villages: SARES Lights Up 9 Villages of 630 More Households in Telang Usan


First introduced in 2016, the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme or SARES has accelerated electricity coverage for Sarawak’s remote rural heartlands.

Villages too distant to be grid-connected are now provided with free and renewable electricity via alternative off-grid solutions, funded by the Sarawak Government through the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak and implemented by Sarawak Energy.

In the Telang Usan district, more than 2,800 households from 49 remote villages now have access to 24-hour free electricity supply via the SARES initiative.

This month, Telang Usan saw the electrification of 630 more households from nine villages, with 6,861 residents benefitting from SARES solar-powered systems. The nine beneficiary villages include Long Ajeng, Ba’ Muboi, Lio Mato, Long Tungan, Long Selaan, Long Moh, Long Jeeh, Long Jekitan and Long Tikan.

The communities gathered at Kampung Lio Mato yesterday for the official handover of the newly installed SARES systems from project implementor Sarawak Energy, and to celebrate the successful completion of their training to operate and maintain the renewable solar system.

Dato Sri Dr. Stephen Rundi Utom, Minister for Utilities officiated, with Dato Gerawat Gala, Deputy Speaker for the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly and State Assemblyman for Mulu in attendance. Also present at the event were Datuk Liwan Lagang, Assistant Minister for Utilities (Rural Electricity); Anyi Ngau, Member of Parliament for Baram, Baru Tai, Telang Usan District Officer and representatives from relevant agencies and community leaders.

Sarawak Energy was represented by Dr Chen Shiun, Vice President for Rural Electrification and the SARES team.

Speaking at the event, Rundi said, “Congratulations to the people of these 9 Telang Usan longhouses for completing your training and learning how to perform, operate and maintain these solar systems. Your involvement, cooperation and support are crucial in ensuring the long-term sustainability and success of SARES in your longhouse.”

“SARES is truly lighting up rural Sarawak. In 2009, only 56% of Sarawak had electricity coverage. At the end of 2019, electricity coverage for our rural population has grown to 93% with a total state coverage of 97%. This is due to many strategic measures implemented over the last decade to make sure every rural household will have access to reliable electricity 24/7,” he said.

“In 2018, we launched Sarawak’s RM2.37 billion Accelerated Rural Electrification Masterplan which aims to provide access to reliable electricity supply 24/7 to every village and household in rural Sarawak. This includes extending the rural reach of the transmission and distribution infrastructure and targeting remote longhouses for SARES,” he explained.

“The success is evident with the spike in electrified households, allowing us to progress further in our ultimate ambition for every household in Sarawak to enjoy reliable power supply by 2025,” he said.

Rundi continued, “SARES is replacing noisy and expensive diesel generator sets with limited running hours, and it will make a big difference to the lives of the people in the remote areas of Sarawak. Growing up in rural Sarawak in a longhouse with no such utility, I know what a big difference this will bring to the people.”

With SARES, each household is provided with 3,000Wh of renewable electricity daily, catering for a typical rural household’s basic needs that include lighting, fans, television, small refrigerator and rice cooker. The system brings convenience and ease to these households as there is less need for frequent travel to town to buy provisions as well as diesel for their former generator sets.

Rundi urged the Village Development and Security Committees (JKKK) and local community leaders to take good care of their newly installed systems and reassured them that Sarawak Energy would continue to provide technical support after the project’s completion and implementation.

(From left to right) Baru Tai, Telang Usan District Officer; Datuk Liwan Lagang, Assistant Minister for Utilities (Rural Electricity); Encik Edam Emang, Ketua Kampung Lio Mato; Dato Sri Dr. Stephen Rundi Utom, Minister for Utilities; Dr Chen Shiun, Sarawak Energy Vice President for Rural Electrification; Dato Gerawat Gala, Deputy Speaker for the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly and State Assemblyman for Mulu; and Anyi Ngau, Member of Parliament for Baram.

SARES handover to the community leaders.

The newly installed SARES solar-powered systems at Kampung Lio Mato.

Lead Acid Batteries at the SARES powerhouse.

Kampung Lio Mato lighted up at night.