KUCHING: Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) has been holding regular talks with federal authorities on the purchase of power from the Bakun hydro-electric dam, said chief executive officer Torstein Dale Sjotveit.
“We are discussing the commercial and technical terms (on Bakun) with the Federal (Government),” he said in his maiden media conference here yesterday to announce a series of drastic actions by SEB to curb power theft.
However, Sjotveit declined to reveal at what stage negotiations between the two parties had reached, especially on tariff rates. But he added that he was hoping that an agreement on tariff rates could be sealed by the end of the year.
“It is better to be sooner than later,’’ Sjotveit said.
SEB has also been talking to companies in energy-intensive industries in the Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy (SCORE) on the sale of Bakun power to them, according to Sjotveit.
Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd, which is controlled by the Federal Government, is the owner of the RM7.3bil Bakun dam, which will have an installed capacity of 2,400 MW.
The Federal Government has agreed that power from the Bakun dam will be used by industries, like aluminium smelters, in SCORE.
Sjotveit said Sarawak’s power demand had grown by about 6% per annum, with current peak demand in excess of 1,000 MW. Syarikat SESCo, a unit of SEB which generates and distributes electricity, has an installed capacity of about 1,260 MW.
On power theft, he said SESCo suffered losses of between RM90mil and RM100mil a year, up from RM50mil four years ago. Sesco’s sales of electricity was about RM1.5bil last year.
Sjotveit said the stolen electricity was used to operate restaurants, karaoke lounges, bars and other businesses. Sibu, located in central Sarawak, has the biggest number of power thieves, topping the list in terms of stolen energy units.
Sjotveit said SEB would cut off power supply to repeated power thieves to cripple their businesses, in addition to prosecuting them and recovering dues owed to SESCo.
“Contractors involved in electricity meter tampering will be banned from working for SESCo for the next five years, in addition to possible legal action.
“SESCo employees involved in power theft will be dismissed immediately as well as facing possible legal action,” he warned.
Sjotveit said some SESCO employees had been sacked for their involvement in meter tampering.