News & Updates

Call To Consolidate Efforts To Accelerate Electrification Projects In Northern Sarawak



The Sarawak Government, through the Ministry of Utilities and Sarawak Energy, has accelerated the pace of electrification in the Northern region of the state by extending the main electricity grid which will strengthen supply for Limbang Division and cater to power exchange interconnection with Sabah.

However, critical challenges remain which continue to impede progress especially in the area of land claims requiring the cooperation of all stakeholders. Immediate steps will be taken to address the challenges.

An in-progress meeting was held last week chaired by YB Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Deputy Chief Minister and Second Minister of Urban Development & Natural Resources together with the Ministry of Utilities and Sarawak Energy. Consolidated strategies that would expedite electrification projects up north and address challenges that have delayed major sections of the Rakyat’s project were discussed.

The discussions were primarily on the Northern Grid Extension project and how its delay impacts stability of electricity supply in Limbang Division and also Project Rakyat initiatives regarding rural electrification for the region.

The Deputy Chief Minister was briefed on the Northern Grid Extension project status and was informed of the challenges that Sarawak Energy was facing in meeting project completion scheduled by 2024. A critical portion that is facing significant delay is the Bunut-Medamit 275kV which is currently affected by land and wayleave issues.

“We need to prioritise the Northern Grid Extension Project. The people of Limbang and Lawas must be connected to the main electricity grid and benefit from a modernised electricity supply system that would only spur development in the region. Rest assured we are looking into the challenges and issues faced by Sarawak Energy in delivering this critical project and will provide the support they need to complete the Northern Grid Extension. These are all projects that are meant for the Rakyat and therefore it has to be done and completed,” said YB Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah.

The delay is also depriving the people of Lawas and Limbang stable and reliable electricity supply as both districts are now powered through standalone power stations still mainly dependent on ageing diesel generators with limited capacity. Both districts have been experiencing a spate of outages from load shedding due to generator breakdowns. Immediate mitigation actions include purchasing new generator sets and enhancing the protection system to prevent mass outages. These issues will be permanently resolved once the Northern Grid Extension project comes online by the scheduled completion date of 2024.

Meanwhile, the challenges faced in the Northern Grid Extension project together with the movement restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are also slowing down Rural Electrification last mile efforts to connect villages around Bunut, Batu Danau, Ulu Medamit, Ba’kelalan and Bario.

Rural electricity coverage for Limbang Division currently stands at 94.5 per cent with more than 18,000 households already connected with 24-hour electricity. Plans are already in place to electrify the remaining 1,071 households from 47 villages to completely cover Limbang Division.

Thirty-five villages situated along the road from Lawas to the Ba’kelalan highlands will be supplied in two stages. The first involves the construction of a new 80KM long 33KV distribution line from Lawas to Long Luping which will support the Rural Electrification Scheme for 15 villages of 281 households by end of 2022. The second stage involves the extension of this 33KV distribution line to Punang Kelalan in the Ba’kelalan highlands to connect 20 villages of 584 households by end 2023. A new 33/11kV substation is also planned as a new injection point for Ba’kelalan.

Sarawak’s Ministry of Utilities, in leading the rural electrification initiatives, has also rolled out the ALAF (Additional and Late Applicant Fund) programme to connect newer homes in villages with expanding households to the grid. Since the programme started in 2018, about 582 households in 133 villages in the Limbang Division have been connected and 115 households from 24 villages are in progress.

YB Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah called for closer collaboration between Ministries, Resident and District offices, local service centres, and Sarawak Energy to identify those villagers in need of the ALAF assistance programme.

Also attending the meeting were YB Dato Henry Sum Agong, Deputy Transport Minister who is also Member of Parliament for Lawas, YB Datuk Dr Haji Abdul Rahman Ismail, Sarawak Assistant Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development who is also Bukit Kota Assemblyman and YB Paulus Palu Gumbang, Batu Danau Assemblyman.

Representing Sarawak Energy were Group Chief Executive Officer Datu Haji Sharbini Suhaili, Executive Vice President for Project Delivery Ir. Pramod Kumar Karunakaran, Vice President for Rural Electrification Dr Chen Shiun, Vice President for Distribution Yusri Safri and General Manager (Transmission Line Projects) Shawn Liu.

Transmission Line connecting Marudi Junction Substation

The Marudi Junction 275/132/33kV Substation

The Rural Electrification Scheme or RES involves extension of the grid system for rural households with road accessibility.

Connection works were done for Rh Ungi, one of the villages connected through the RES in the Limbang Division.

Limbang Power Station dependent on ageing diesel generators with limited capacity.