KOTA KINABALU: Tenaga Nasional Bhd has no choice but to use coal to generate electricity in the east coast of Sabah because supply of that fuel is more dependable, its chairman Tan Sri Leo Moggie said.
He also said the proposed 300MW coal-fired power plant near Lahad Datu would not affect the Maliau Basin and Danum Valley rainforest which lies about 80km away.
“We do not see any problem with our clean coal fuel technology,” he said after attending the Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) Hari Raya open house here yesterday. SESB is a subsidiary of TNB.
He was asked to comment on the proposed plant in Silam near Lahad Datu in the east coast of the state.
On Monday, The Star highlighted on its front page the concerns of residents and environmental groups over the RM1.3bil project which would be located just 80km from the pristine Danum Valley rainforest research station.
Moggie, who is also SESB chairman, said coal plants in Klang, Port Dickson, Lumut, Tanjung Bin in Johor and Kuching have been operating in high population density areas with minimal environmental problems.
“It is not something new to us as we have been using coal fuel in heavily populated areas since the 1980s,” he said.
Moggie said coal was the only option for fuel because other forms of energy were not readily available.
Asked about the location of the proposed plant being too close to environmentally-sensitive areas, Moggie said SESB had looked at a number of possible sites but Silam had turned out to be the best.
“It is a logical place as it is close to the coast,” he said.
He stressed that Danum Valley and Maliau Basin would not be affected because environmental mitigation steps were part of the environment impact assessment which SESB would have to follow.
TNB chief executive officer Datuk Che Khalib Mohamad Noh said modern coal-fired plants had safeguards where the system would shut down if any cleaning processes were by-passed.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said the state will only allow the proposed Lahad Datu coal-fired power plant to be built after seeing the recommendations of the environment impact assessment.
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