Rural schools to have electrification priority

KUCHING: Rural and remote schools in feasible areas that currently rely on diesel power will have higher priority to be connected to the power grid.

Apart from that, other key areas identified for rural electrification expansion include commercial areas in small towns and highly populated areas, while off-grid solutions through renewable energy technologies will be considered for isolated rural areas, Assistant Minister of Rural Electricity Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi said.

There are areas especially in rural and remote Sarawak that still lack access to electricity including villages, longhouses as well as schools and not only Lapok, he said when met at his Hari Raya Open House at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in Petra Jaya here yesterday.

We are aware of the problems and our officers are on the ground to see the feasibility and how to extend the power supply from the power grid to the commercial area in Lapok town as well as that of villages and longhouses, he added.

Dr Abdul Rahman was responding to the water and electricity problems faced by Lapok folk, a small town located some 116km from Miri, highlighted by the Borneo Post Adventure Team (BAT7) recently.

Even though it would take some time considering the numerous complications and issues, the Pantai Damai assemblyman, however, assured that efforts were ongoing to electrify the entire state by 2025.

He further said that at a recent meeting, it was decided that focus of the rural electrification plan would be on rural schools that were yet to be connected to the power grid.

We are identifying all these schools by getting information from District Education Offices (PPD) and state Education Department as well as the Meteorology on how to bring direct electricity supply to these underprivileged schools, he elaborated.

The feedback has been positive and we are going to supply (electricity) to some schools which have accepted immediately while few schools are still bound by contracts to use diesel generator sets and have to wait until the contract ends before getting connected, he said.

In addition, Dr Abdul Rahman elaborated they would go down to the ground to meet and discuss with elected representatives to rectify problems in their areas including Marudi.

As for remote isolated places, especially those inaccessible by road, he said the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) could be an option for them to be supplied with electricity.

Hard-to-reach places like settlements and longhouses still depending on riverine transportation have been identified for the Sares. The scheme has been implemented actively for the last two to three years using solar hybrid and mini hydro systems.

In places where these projects have been implemented, especially the solar hybrid, it has been very successful, he revealed, highlighting Bario,where the biggest solar project was implemented, which now provides 24-hour electricity to the 12 longhouses situated on the plateau.

Some other areas, he added, had put in place a smaller solar hybrid system capable of storing energy in batteries for later use and connected to another power generating energy source like diesel gensets to strengthen the load.

In areas with good river flow system, we build the mini hydro station. There are some very remote settlements which we have yet to identify and it will be done in phases, he reassured.

Source: The Borneo Post