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‘Don’t blame Bakun for blackout’

 | July 29, 2013

Sarawak’s Public Utilities Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan had last week said initial findings from Sarawak Energy Berhad and Sarawak Hidro confirmed the blackout originated from the dam.

KUCHING: Bakun dam operators, Sarawak Hidro, have refused to accept blame for last month’s six hour statewide blackout which had resulted in domestic and industrial consumers losing millions of ringgit.

Sarawak Hidro managing director Zulkifli Osman strongly defended the federal government which now owns Bakun.

“Bakun plants’ drop in load would not have caused a blackout on June 27. There could be other contributing factors such as system under frequency load shedding scheme, response of other power plants in the system and stress condition of the transmission network.

“However, Sarawak Hidro including Alstom engineering design and expert to date have yet to conclude the findings into the cause of the blackout,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Zulkifli was responding to allegations by Sarawak’s Public Utilities Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan that the Bakun dam was the culprit and that the state government was mulling legal action against Sarawak Hidro, the operator of the Bakun dam.

Last Friday Awang Tengah said legal action against Sarawak Hidro was provided for under the Sarawak Energy Berhad’s purchase agreement with Sarawak Hidro.

The minister also reportedy said that initial findings from SEB and Sarawak Hidro and the electrical unit of his ministry confirmed that the blackout originated from the dam.

The findings of the blackout were due to the sudden drop in load of about 650MW of Bakun’s three generating units, while the SEB’s system was not capable of supporting the three large units which tripped simultaneously.

But in his statement yesterday Zulkifli said Sarawak Hidro was “yet to conclude the findings.”

He said the company had engaged Alstom which is a leading energy solutions and transport company with its headquarters in France to investigate.

Check and balance

Zulkifli however welcomed the state government’s decision to hire an an independent consultant adding that the exercise would ensure a check and balance of the whole scenario.

“We hope we can compare notes to improve for the benefits of Sarawak, and the findings of the study should be used to enforce Bakun’s plants as well as other defence plan in the grid system to avoid risks of another system collapse in the future,” he said.

He said that the federal ministry of finance had also engaged an independent consultant to look into Bakun’s plants and Sarawak’s system.

The report is pending input from relevant parties, he said.

Awang Tengah last week announced an independent study to identify the underlying factors contributing to the blackout and the measures to mitigate the incident.

The study is expected to be completed by the end of next month.

The six-hour blackout had resulted in the public losing confidence in SEB, the state government-owned power supply, said Awang Tengah.


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