6 November 2002 – Work on the proposed 700km power transmission line from Malaysia’s revived Bakun hydro electric project is scheduled for completion by 2007 at the earliest, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said today.

Chan, who is also Sarawak Finance and Public Utilities Minister, said the RM700m ($184m) project would enable up to 1000 MW of power to be eventually supplied to the Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation (Sesco) with the implementation of the Bakun hydroelectric project on the Balui River in Sarawak.

“This means that the existing double circuit transmission line from Bintulu to Kuching will be reinforced by another double circuit transmission line,” he said in his winding up speech in the state assembly here.

He also said that the civil engineering work to increase the generating capacity of the existing Sejingkat coal-fired power plant here by 110 MW, was now about 30 per cent completed.

The project, which began early this year, was expected to be completed towards the end of 2004.

He said both the state and federal governments recognised the need for more access to electricity supplies, especially for the rural areas, in line with Sarawak’s vision for the information communication technology (ICT).

Under the Eighth Malaysia Plan, the federal government had approved a total of RM150m for the rural electrification scheme compared with RM158m under the previous plan, he said.

Despite the substantial financial provisions, he said, the government was still unable to satisfy the needs of all strata of the society.

He said that apart from financial constraints, other impediments included settlement patterns, with the population scattered over a large area, and non-availability of appropriate technology that could effectively serve settlements in off-grid areas.

His ministry was working hand-in-hand with the Sarawak Rural Development