KUCHING: The power tariffs offered by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) to energy-intensive industries in Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu, are competitive but not cheap, according to State Planning Unit director Datuk Ismawi Ismuni.
He said claims that SEB gave cheap electricity rates to these industries were “incorrect.”
“We (SEB) have published rates for industries. (But) for energy-intensive industries, it is negotiated rates because they need big power supply 24 hours a day and seven days a week. So, the formula we use is take or pay,” he added when replying to queries from a participant at Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy (Score) forum here.
The participant had asked what power rates were offered to energy-intensive industries, like aluminium and manganese smelters.
The forum, which was part of the Intrernational Energy Week 2015 hosted by the state government, covered “updates on Score – future perspective, initiatives and challenges ahead” and “developing new directive and strategies in empowering sustainable energy in Sarawak.”
Chaired by Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) chief executive officer (CEO) Tan Sri Wilson Baya Dandot, the forum featured three panel speakers – Ismawi,Press Metal Bhd group CEO Datuk Pauk Koon Poh Keong and Sakura Ferro Alloys general manager Chris Rowe.
Ismawi said Sarawak had to compete with other countries in attracting investors in energy-intensive industries.
Citing an example, he said the state was locked in a keen competition with Canada, which also has hydro power, when Japan’s Tokuyama Corp considered where to build its plant to produce crystalline silicons for solar cells. Tokuyama eventually picked Sarawak where the company had now invested several billion ringgit in its manufacturing facilities.
“SCORE is active and we are quite successful in attracting the trigger industries.We hope that these trigger industries can bring in the downstream industries so as to generate more jobs and good-paid jobs for the locals.”
Ismawi said with the production of polycrystalline silicons,Sarawak could develop the whole supply chain of the solar industry.
“We are also talking to investors to develop the petro-chemical industries using liquified natural gas (LNG) (produced in Bintulu) as a feedstock,” he added.
He said with the development of the Bakun and Murum hydroelectric dams in the interiors,Sarawak had been able to build roads to connect the remote areas with towns.
With road accessibility,he said this had pave way for the opening up of land for agriculture and plantations as well as to unlock tourism potentials.
Ismawi said a study on the development of Mukah,another growth nodes in SCORE, as a smart city had been completed.
He said SCORE development plan was to leverage on the state’s vast hydro power - a competitive,green and renerwable energy source -for heavy industries which required large amount of power to operate.
The development of hydro dams,said Ismawi,would enable the state to add value to its economy as it had to go for export-oriented industries to further industrialise and create jobs for local skilled workforce.