Power site identified in Sabah

TENOM, Malaysia - The Government has identified a site in Sabah's interior Tenom for a hydroelectric project which has the potential to generate long-term electricity supply for the state.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said the construction of the 180MW Upper Padas Hydroelectric Project (UPHEP), situated at the Padas basin in the upstream of Kuala Tomani, would begin next year and the project would be completed by 2019.

He said the Government had approved a soft loan of RM569 million (S$220 million) for Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) with an equity injection into a company to carry out the project.

"The total project cost is estimated at RM2.3 billion," he said when opening Parti Bersatu Sabah's Kemabong division annual general meeting here on Saturday.

Dr Ongkili said he had gone for an aerial inspection of the project site and the existing Tenom Pangi hydro power station.

He said the UPHEP would involve a smaller water catchment area of 2.3ha per megawatt or a total area of only 590ha.

In comparison, he said the Bakun hydroelectric project required up to 29ha of land per megawatt of power generated and the Murum hydro power project at 26ha per megawatt.

Furthermore, he said, the UPHEP would not only increase SESB's capability to generate power but also provide a flood mitigation solution, especially to the downstream Padas districts of Beaufort and Tenom.

"This infrastructure is expected to save the Government about RM4bil in 40 years of operations of the project as it is undertaken by SESB and a consortium to be set up by the Government," he said.