SRI AMAN: The Batang Ai Hydroelectric Plant near here, the first hydroelectric dam project in Sarawak, continues to provide the state with a valuable source of cheap and sustainable energy.
Even after 30 years of operation, it is still free from any structural or environmental issues, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.
“Thus what non-governmental organisations had been telling the people, that such projects are unsafe, is pure nonsense," he said at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Batang Ai Hydroelectric plant here.
Jabu said when the state decided to develop Batang Ai in 1973, it had embarked on extensive feasibility studies before construction began in 1981.
Jabu, who is also state Rural Development Minister, said hydro power would help Sarawak achieve its industrialisation goal.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit said it would continue to rely on hydro power in fuelling the development of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score).
This is despite the state now pursuing coal and gas as alternative energy sources, he said, adding the Batang Ai Hydroelectric Plant was now the state’s main source of energy.
“Sarawak three hydro dam plants of Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum produce 75% of its current generation mix,” he said at the anniversary celebration.
The plant, located about 27km from Kuching, is the state’s first hydro-dam project and was commissioned on Aug 21, 1985.
Torstein said the successful construction, implementation and operation of the plant had given valuable knowledge and experience in designing, building and operating such dams.
He said there were plans to fully refurbish Batang Ai’s turbines and generators to increase its power output.
The plant is designed to have a maximum power output of 108MW and generate an average energy of 453Gwh (gigawatt hours) per year.
Torstein said SEB would continue to engage with the communities from 26 longhouses affected by the project’s construction.
“We have in conjunction with the 30th anniversary celebration, set aside a sum of RM2mil for various corporate social responsibility projects for them,” he added.
He said the projects include rewiring work for 22 longhouses, besides bringing alternative power source to five others located deep in the interior. – Bernama