Kota Marudu Member of Parliament

Bigger Sabah SESB stake certain

Kota Kinabalu: The Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry (KeTTHA) will open its doors to the state when it decides to increase Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) shares.

KeTTHA Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said it is possible for the State Government to increase its share by more than 10 per cent in response to the State Industrial Development Minister Datuk Seri Raymond Tan's recent announcement on the State Government offering to buy a 10 per cent stake.

"But this means Tenaga Nasional Berhad and the state authority need to open a discussion as SESB shareholders," he said.

"We can facilitate if the state submits to the other shareholder (TNB), should they want to own a larger equity," he said, adding that any equity changes requires approval from KeTTHA.

He said this during the Sabah Power Supply Open Day press conference which was intended to provide information to the public on the current situation regarding the power disruption in the State at Suria Sabah Shopping Mall, here, on Monday.

Parti Warisan Sabah Vice President Junz Wong, who was also at the event, proposed that the government should own 51 per cent of the stake in SESB.

TNB currently owns 82.75 per cent of SESB while the state government holds the remainder.

Maximus, however, did not comment on concerns by SESB staff that they may be retrenched in view of the utility provider's difficult financial situation.

Meanwhile, Maximus emphasised that the RM2.3 billion allocation for the 57 high-impact power supply projects in the state and Labuan will not be funneled to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

"The allocation that is approved under the 11th Malaysia Plan will be for capital expenditure and to improve the delivery system. Not a single cent goes to them as it is mainly to improve SESB," he said.

Maximus also said the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) in Sabah had improved since 12 years ago.

"The rate has reduced to 241 minutes per customer per year compared to 4,109 minutes in 2005.

"The government is now targeting to reduce the rate in the state to 200 minutes per customer per year for this year and hopefully 100 minutes by 2020," he said.

Maximus also said his ministry was not fully informed of a new proposal by a private firm for a RM6 billion clean coal power plant but said he deferred to the State Government as the authority on the subject.

"But as a Sabahan, any capacity building on the east coast [of Sabah], if you were to consider coal energy, it must not be on our land, outside of Sabah, yes," he said.

Ongkili said that there was currently a proposal to import power from North Kalimantan from a coal-fired plant there outside of Sabah's boundaries.

The proposed 150-200 MW coal-fired power plant would be based in Tarakan, and power would be exported to Tawau.

Recently, peninsula-based company Afmaco Energy Bhd announced its intention to invest RM6 billion to develop a clean fuel refinery complex in Sabah's east coast of Tawau and said it was awaiting approval from the federal government and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd to go ahead with an environmental impact assessment.

It's chief executive officer Ahmad Faizul Mohamed Alwi had said the project would utilise Chinese environmentally-friendly technology that uses lignite, a brown coal, and employ a zero waste system that has been in use for eight years.

The State Government said it was not fully aware of the project and said it would obtain a full briefing on the proposal.

In 2011, government plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Lahad Datu were dropped following objections that claimed it would degrade the environment in the area. - Locksley Ng