Sabah to Regain Control Over Electricity Supply in New Year

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Sabah’s State Assembly schedules a special sitting for January 3, as Chief Minister Hajiji Noor announces the Prime Minister’s approval to transfer regulatory control of electricity supply to the state, aimed at addressing power shortages and boosting renewable energy.

KOTA KINABALU: A special State Assembly sitting has been slated for January 3 next year to pave the way for Sabah to take over regulatory power of the state’s electricity supply.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor said the Prime Minister had, in principle, given the green light for Sabah to take over regulatory control of its electricity supply on Jan 1, 2024.

To meet the timeline, coordination and cooperation from all are crucial so that all issues, particularly the legal process, can be resolved, he said at the steering committee meeting on handing over of electricity supply regulatory power to Sabah.

The Chief Minister co-chaired the meeting with Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad at Menara Kinabalu today.

Among the steps required were approval from the Federal Cabinet to invoke and gazette Article 95C of the Federal Constitution to suspend the Electricity Supply Act 1990 (Act 448), Renewable Energy Act 2011 (Act 725) and Sustainable Energy Development Authority Act 2011 (Act 726) in Sabah.

“Subsequently, consent from Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong is needed and to be followed by the Lay Order in Parliament that can be tabled after the suspension,” he said.

On the State Government’s part, two bills on the Electricity Supply Enactment and Renewable Energy Enactment, as well as an amendment to the Sabah Energy Commission Enactment 2023 (to include the regulatory function on electricity supply and renewable energy), will be tabled during the special State Assembly sitting on Jan 3 next year.

“We need concurrence from ministries and relevant agencies both at the Federal and State level so that all these processes can be done smoothly, especially in terms of legality and to avoid interruption to the electric supply operations in Sabah,” he said.

Later, Hajiji and Nik Nazmi co-chaired the Jawatankuasa Perancangan dan Pelaksanaan Pembekalan Elektrik dan Tarif (JPPPET) Sabah meeting, where the Sabah Generation Development Plan (2023-2027) was endorsed.

Formulated by the Energy Commission of Sabah (ECoS), the Sabah Generation Development Plan was aimed at providing an immediate solution to Sabah’s current critical shortage of power generation capacity.

Earlier, Hajiji said that in anticipation of the handing over of the regulatory control of electricity supply to Sabah, the Federal Government was urged to facilitate and continue the processes to ensure on time completion of the projects planned under the Sabah Generation Development Plan.

He said this included fast-track measures to increase power at the East Coast, which will quickly restore Sabah’s electricity reserve margin to at least 30 per cent by September this year.

“This will provide an immediate solution to the acute capacity shortage in Sabah, thus demonstrating the state and federal government’s commitment to resolve the issue comprehensively and effectively,” he said.

Besides that, the meeting also decided to add generation capacity on the west coast utilising existing natural gas supply as well as other additional generation projects throughout Sabah.

“The State Government realise the importance of boosting usage of renewable energy to support the national neutral carbon initiative and the high potential of solar energy in Sabah. Therefore, the State Government will increase the Large-Scale Solar power production to 100MW in 2026 on the East Coast,” he said. 

Hajiji said that given the hydroelectric potential to enhance renewable energy capacity, the State Government, through ECoS, will conduct a study to formulate a Sabah Hydroelectric Development Masterplan beginning this year.

Hajiji also reiterated the State Government’s stand on the Southern Link 275kV Transmission Line project from Sipitang to Tawau, which he had raised at the last JPPPET meeting.

He said the Southern Link project must be implemented and the Federal Government must allocate funding via grant because it is a public amenity project that must be completed by 2028 in order for power from two new hydroelectric stations to be channeled to consumers through the state grid.

“The Southern Link project will also boost the grid system resilience and complete the 275kV loop system enabling higher electricity capacity distribution to major industrial users in Sabah,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that in addition, a Sabah Energy Roadmap and Masterplan 2040 (SE-RAMP 2040) prepared by ECoS, covering various strategies and initiatives to balance power needs and ensure energy security, affordability and environmental sustainability, will be launched soon.

Present at the meeting were State Secretary Datuk Seri Panglima Sr Safar Untong, NRECC Deputy Secretary General Dato’ Mohamad Razif Abd Mubin, State Attorney General Datuk Nor Asiah Binti Mohd Yusof, Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary Datuk Mohd Sofian Alfian Nair, Energy Commission of Sabah (ECoS) Chief Executive Officer Datuk Ir. Abdul Nasser Abdul Wahid and senior Federal and State officers.

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