Bakun revival

The Malaysian government is to go ahead with the deferred Bakun hydropower project with the state utility Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) taking a leading role. The giant multi-million dollar project was postponed in 1997 due to the economic downturn.

Prime Minister Dr. Mahatir Mohamed said that electricity demand had picked up and that there was a need to continue with the project. Although the revived project is likely to be smaller than the original one, the cost to the country will be higher due to the depreciation of the Ringgit. The government is also having second thoughts about the construction of the undersea cable link between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, which accounts for half of project costs.

The project will not go ahead until the government has legally taken it over from the previous developer, Bakun Hydro-Electric Corp. Mohamed did not rule out participation by companies other than TNB.

The Malaysian government is to introduce a competitive bidding system among the country`s power generators to allow TNB to purchase electricity at a lower price.