Sarawak suffers double outage in 9 hours

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KUCHING: Sarawak suffered two power outages within a nine-hour period, with the first occurring at 6.38pm yesterday and the other at 3.30am today.

Sarawak Energy in a statement today said the first outage affecting Sibu, parts of Mukah and 30% of Kuching was caused by a double circuit tripping at the 275kV Kemena-Selangau line, causing a system split.

“This was suspected to have been caused by heavy lightning activity in the area,” said Sarawak Energy group chief operating officer Lu Yew Hung.

He said Sarawak Energy’s system defence scheme activated immediately and Kuching was successfully “islanded” to minimise the number of customers affected, with full restoration at 6.14am.

“This is a separate incident from the tripping at the Oya-Selangau 275kV transmission lines yesterday evening,” said Lu, adding that Sarawak Energy was currently investigating the cause of the two outages.

He said the risk of incidents like these occurring would continue until the completion of the 500kV second transmission line. Until then, two to three major outages could occur in a year until critical parts of the project were completed.

According to Lu, the 500kV transmission line would provide a second backbone transmission, avoiding major outages in the event of a double circuit trip such as that which occurred in November 2015 and January 2016.

“With two parallel transmission backbones, power supply will continue from our major generation power plants concentrated in the north such as the Bakun and Murum HEPs to customers in Sarawak, particularly in the more densely populated southern region should the lines trip,” he added.