Peninsula firms hired for Sabah solar plant due to lack of local expertise, says Ecos

KOTA KINABALU: The appointment of peninsula-based electrical contractors for a solar power plant was due to the lack of contractors in the state, says the Energy Commission of Sabah (Ecos).

Ecos CEO Datuk Abdul Nasser Abdul Wahid said that there was a lack of local contractors which necessitated the opening of registration to non-Sabahan contractors.

“This was due to the lack of solar programmes in Sabah over the past few years,” he said, in a statement here on Tuesday (May 28).

He added the appointment of non-Sabahan contractors for the time being was crucial for the successful implementation of solar programmes in Sabah to address the critical generation shortage.

Abdul Nasser was responding to Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee, who questioned the energy regulator over the appointment of non-Sabah contractors in Ecos’ inaugural large-scale solar (LSS) photovoltaic (PV) power plant bidding process, named LSS-SABAH2024.

The former chief minister said the seven contractors have businesses and registered addresses in Peninsular Malaysia.

Abdul Nasser stressed that the development of local expertise in the energy sector for the state remains a priority for Ecos.

“We appreciate the concerns raised and we agree on the importance of local participation, hence the LSS-SABAH 2024 pre-requirement emphasises that interested bidders must be a Sabah-based company or a Sabah government-linked company (GLC); or a consortium of companies,” he said.

Abdul Nasser explained that the equity ownership of the Sabah-based company or Sabah GLC within the consortium must meet the minimum requirement stated in the bid document.

In addition to that, he added, bidders who have more local content will be given merit points.

Before this, Ecos had said that priority would be given to qualified Sabah-owned companies or consortia registered with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) or the Sabah Contractor Registration Center for Works (Pukonsa), provided they or their partners met the relevant class, head and sub-head requirements.

Abdul Nasser said in the meantime, there were ongoing initiatives to increase local competent persons by establishing necessary solar training programmes in Sabah by Ecos' accredited training providers.

“By doing this, alongside reviving the solar programmes in Sabah, we can increase the number of local electrical contractors with class PV (grid-connected) in Sabah, and at the same time, provide employment opportunities to local competent persons,” he said.

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