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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Moggie told: Why coal when Sabah has gas?

Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah believes natural gas is the best alternative to coal to meet the rising demand for power supply in Sabah.

Responding to remarks by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) Chairman Tan Sri Leo Moggie that there was no other choice than but coal to produce power, Tan insisted that natural gas was still the best bet.

"The Federal Government is aware of the situation here in Sabah and there is general consensus that gas is still the preferred choice," he said, in a statement here, Monday.

"Petronas has piped gas on shore for Sabah and their views to provide gas for the State to generate power should be given due consideration."

He pointed out that even if plans for the coal plant went ahead, it would not be ready to supply power by 2010, as the plant will take a longer time to be implemented. "We have to address immediate needs."

Tan, who is also Infrastructure Development Minister, said apart from new technologies, the Sabah Government has to take into account other aspects, especially locations, as the State is earmarked for development under the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

"TNB need not engage themselves in a debate in the press on the use of coal as fuel for power plants.

"It will be better to invite the views of NGOs like Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) and engage them in the deliberation of clean coal technology," he said.

He stressed that TNB should assist the State Government to provide assurances to visitors and investors on sufficient power supply in Sabah.

"In the short term, there is need to ensure supply is reliable both in the West and East Coast of Sabah. We may need additional IPPs (Independent Power Plants) and better if powered by gas," Tan said.

"The Federal Minister concerned, Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor had made the announcement but it was not adequately highlighted. Surely the East-West grid is important to enable supply to be sent to the East from the West Coast."

"TNB has made assurances in the past that this grid will help to provide additional supply to the East and over the last six months, not much complaints were heard in the East Coast," he explained.

He reiterated that it is TNB's responsibility (through its subsidiary Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd) to ensure that distribution and not just production is reliable.

"In fact, quite a lot of fund is used to improve the distribution network in the East Coast. SESB needs to reduce the rate of interruptions, which in Sabah has been abnormally high," Tan said.

"TNB has a more important role to play in building public confidence now.

TNB together with the State and Federal governments shall address the supply of power in Sabah as envisaged in the SDC."


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