Coal plant idea being revived 

(Daily Express) – The Federal Government plans to revive the controversial coal-fired power plant that was scrapped in 2011 as part of a long-term plan to solve the State’s power woes.

The proposed RM1.3 billion 300MW project which was cancelled on Feb. 26, 2011 after being heavily opposed by a local environmental group is now being discussed at ministerial-level, said Energy, Green Technology and Water Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, Monday.

He named Tawau as the plant’s new location but later stated the project would be within the East Coast as “there are still various issues to be concluded and details of the plan are not yet available.”

Mahdzir said this after chairing the first meeting of a task force that was set up to ensure the roadmap to the implementation of better electricity supply in Sabah is achieved.

He added Sabahans would be enjoying better supply by now if the coal-fired plant project had followed through five years ago, laying the blame on the leader of an environmental group who has since left Sabah.

“Because of this NGO leader, Sabah is still facing a power supply problem,” he said, adding that the Ministry is now prepared for another round of opposition over the said plan.

Without naming the group’s leader, Mahdzir said the leader left Sabah to the peninsula to head a peninsula-based environmental group and subsequently became a politician, in a veiled reference to Wong Tack who headed Sepa and thereafter Himpunan Hijau. Soon after the plan was scrapped, another lady activist also decided to claim credit on the Internet for the Government’s decision.

Mahdzir said the country is now facing the possibility of higher electricity tariff and there is a need to find another venue to solve the issue from now and beyond 2020. He said the task force was set up to ensure the implementation of all the long, medium and short-term plans, including monitoring the implementation of electrical supply projects, advice on power-generating capacity and affordability and others.

Short-term plans include power generation from the 300MW Kimanis Power Project and the SPR Energy Power Projects which are expected to come on stream by end of this year and by 2014 respectively.

Also, an additional 14MW capacity from 5-9MW from the Sepanggar Bay Power Corporation, 20MW from Batu Sapi since March and 64MW from the Kubota Power plant.

All of which, he said, will cover Sandakan, Tawau and Kota Kinabalu in the short-term range from 2013 to 2015.

Medium-term, he said, involved 180MW from the Upper Padas Hydro Electric project which would begin end of next year, a 30MW Renewable Energy (geothermal) plant in Tawau and the Southern link transmission from Sipitang and to Kalumpang, which will link loops in the middle of the State crossing underneath the Crocker Range.

The project would be from 2013 to 2019, while the long-term plan would go beyond 2020, said Mahdzir, adding that it depends on the demand of local industries, which are expanding.

The taskforce comprises the Energy Commission, Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd, Rural Electric Supply Projects under the Rural Development and Regional Ministry and various related State agencies.

When contacted, State Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said he was not aware of the plan. He said the State Government has made a commitment to safeguard the environment in view of the strategic importance of the tourism industry to the economy of the State.