KUCHING: Sarawak Energy Bhd’s (SEB) social and environment impact assessment (SEIA) for the Baleh hydroelectric dam project has been approved by the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB), paving the way for work to commence pending final approval from the state government.
Announcing this yesterday, chief executive Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit said SEB received the approval on March 13 and would now move forward with the next step of approval from the state Cabinet.
“We hope to start the project by next year. There is no resettlement involved in the project so we expect no issues in Baleh,” he told a media workshop on SEB’s business operations at Menara Sarawak Energy here.
Sjotveit said SEB, as a member of the International Hydropower Association, would undertake the project in accordance with the guidelines set out by the hydropower sustainability assessment protocol.
He said the Baleh HEP would help to meet the strong growth in industrial demand for electricity resulting from the success of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) in drawing investors in energy-intensive industries to Samalaju Industrial Park.
He added that the growth of Score as well as the construction of the Baleh dam would create jobs for Sarawakians and help maintain the state’s momentum towards becoming a high-income economy.
“This is aligned with Sarawak’s vision for sustinable growth and prosperity, which SEB is helping to deliver by meeting the need for secure, reliable and renewable energy through projects such as Baleh,” he said.
Sjotveit also thanked the Baleh community for their cooperation during the SEIA study.
“The implementation of the Baleh HEP will spur development in Sarawak and the people stand to benefit in many ways. The community in Baleh understands this and we have received positive response from them,” he said.
The Baleh HEP, which will be located on the Baleh River about 95km from its confluence with the Rajang River in Kapit division, will be a 188m high concrete-faced rockfill dam with an installed power capacity of 1,285MW.
It is scheduled to be completed in 2024.