SARES Lights Up 725 More Remote Households In Telang Usan

2,500 households in 51 Telang Usan villages lighted up. 8,000 households in more than 270 villages in Sarawak so far

31 OCTOBER 2020

The Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme or SARES has made a difference in the lives of over 8,000 households in more than 270 villages in the most remote areas of Sarawak since it was introduced in 2016.

Overall, under this innovative government-community initiative, the Sarawak Government through the Ministry of Utilities and project implementor Sarawak Energy has provided about 60,000 rural residents who live in Sarawak’s hinterland with renewable, decarbonised and reliable 24/7 energy by displacing noisy and expensive diesel generators through the innovative government-community initiative.

Since SARES was introduced in 2016, more than 20,000 residents from about 2,500 households in 51 remote villages in Telang Usan have been lighted up. By the end of 2021, Telang Usan will be fully electrified when the renewable solar-powered systems are installed in another 21 villages in the area.

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg officiated at an event held in Long Pilah, Telang Usan to officially hand over the newly installed SARES systems and to commemorate the successful training for the residents at thirteen beneficiary villages.

These SARES projects have electrified the homes of more than 6,000 residents from 725 households in 13 villages: Long Pilah, Long Luteng, Long Daloh Bestari, Long Miri, Long Tebangan, Long Liam Keliman, Long Sobeng, Long Selapun, Long Sebatang, Long Sengung, Long Pala, Long Buah, and Long Buken.

Long Pilah, with a population of about 2000, is located along the banks of the Baram river and is about 90-minutes drive by timber track from the closest town of Lapok in Miri and about 5 hours drive from Miri City.

Speaking at the event, Abang Johari congratulated the residents of the thirteen longhouses and advised them to take good care of their newly installed SARES systems.

He said, “The State Government has allocated RM2.37 billion for rural electrification projects for 2019 and 2020. We target to achieve full electrification by 2025 even though it is much more challenging to deliver electrification for our rural folks.”

“In 2009, rural electricity coverage was only at 56%. Today, 93% of rural households have already been electrified and 96% overall throughout Sarawak. We will step up our efforts to ensure every household is provided with electricity in the next 5 years,” he elaborated.

Abang Johari was joined by the Sarawak Minister for Utilities, Dato Sri Dr. Stephen Rundi Utom; Deputy Speaker for the Sarawak Legislative Assembly and Assemblyman for Mulu, Dato Gerawat Gala; Member of Parliament for Baram, Anyi Ngau; Assemblyman for Telang Usan, Dennis Ngau; officers from the Ministry of Utilities, relevant agencies and community leaders.

Sarawak Energy was represented by Datuk Amar Hamed Sepawi, Chairman of Sarawak Energy; Dr. Chen Shiun, Vice President for Rural Electrification; and the SARES team.

In his speech at the event, Rundi said, “In the coming years, the Sarawak Government and my Ministry of Utilities through Sarawak Energy aim to light up about 22,000 more rural households with 24-hour electricity supply through several initiatives under the Accelerated Rural Electrification Masterplan. We are extending the transmission and distribution infrastructure into rural areas or providing standalone solutions such as SARES for remote villages in the hinterland.”

“This will get more and more challenging as we progress since the villages left to be electrified are located further and further away. In addition, land matters sometimes cause delays when landowners disallow line construction works to proceed. In order to reach our aspiration of being a developed state by 2030 and full electrification by 2025, I urge for the cooperation of everyone including plantation and land owners so that rural electrification projects can proceed smoothly and no one in Sarawak has to be left in the dark,” he remarked.

He added, “SARES is the fastest way to provide electricity for settlements located deep in the interior of Sarawak that are too distant to be connected to the electricity grid. Through SARES, our rural folk have access to 24-hour electricity. They do not have to pay for their electricity usage, but they have the responsibility of operating and maintaining the systems themselves. The system displaces noisy diesel generators and is a step forward in bridging the rural-urban divide. Please take good care of these systems, so that they can last many years into the future.”

Hamed said that Sarawak Energy would continue to provide technical support after the handover, if required.

“SARES is designed to be sustainable in the long term and involves the community from the planning through to the implementation phase. The SARES team from Sarawak Energy will continue to provide technical support and training to the beneficiary communities on basic operations and maintenance to keep the systems running smoothly,” he assured.

Under SARES, each household is provided with 3,000Wh of renewable energy a day, which is sufficient to power up a typical rural household’s basic needs such as fans, television, lighting, small refrigerator and rice cooker. This allows the communities to reduce the need to travel to town frequently to buy provisions and diesel to run their generator sets.

Abang Jo delivering his speech at Long Pilah, Baram.

Group photo with the representatives of the 13 beneficiary villages

Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi(3rd right), Chairman of Sarawak Energy symbolically hands over the solar power system to Saging Wan Lah(5th right), village headman of Long Pilah in the presence of Sarawak’s Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg (Center), Minister of Utilities Sarawak, Datuk Sri Dr. Stephen Rundi (6th Right), Deputy Speaker for the Sarawak Legislative Assembly and Assemblyman for Mulu, Dato Gerawat Gala(2nd right), Member of Parliament for Baram, Anyi Ngau(1st right), and state assemblyman for Telang Usan, Dennis Ngau (7th right).