Solar power lights up houses

SEB rural electrification vice-president Dr Chen Shiun (second from left) handing over Sares to the longhouse representatives while Rundi (fourth from right) looks on.

KUCHING: Four longhouses in Sebauh, Bintulu, now have off-grid electricity following the completion and installation of solar systems under the Sarawak alternative rural electrification scheme (Sares).

The systems were handed over from Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) to representatives from Rumah Nompang, Rumah Lawai, Rumah Elwin Ugan and Rumah Palos, comprising 102 households and 610 residents.

Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi said the state government allocated RM2.37bil for the 2019-2020 period to accelerate rural electrification in order to achieve full electrification in Sarawak by 2025.

“We are seeing success as electricity coverage for Sarawak’s rural population went up to 93% last year through various initiatives under the rural electrification master plan, including the Sares programme that kicked off in 2016, ” he said at the handover ceremony.

For Bintulu division, Rundi said Sares connected 17 villages in Sebauh district and 18 villages in Tatau, lighting up 607 households with about 3,300 residents.

Another 21 projects are ongoing in the Tatau district, due for completion by early next year.

“By 2020, it is anticipated that Sares will have benefited 5,100 residents in Bintulu division with 24-hour reliable and renewable electricity supply, ” Rundi said.

He added that Sares was making a difference to the lives of people in rural areas who lacked the same access to utilities as urban folk.

“Each household is provided with 3,000Wh (watt-hours) of renewable electricity daily, enough to power basic needs such as lighting, television and refrigerator.

“There is less need for the villagers to travel frequently to town to buy provisions and diesel for their generator sets, ” he said.

An initiative under the rural electrification master plan, Sares provides standalone alternative systems of solar or micro-hydro technology to supply electricity to remote villages located too far to be connected to the main power grid.

The local communities are trained to perform simple operation and maintenance work, with SEB providing free technical support through government funding.

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