HomeEnglishFind capable company to kick off Upper Padas Hydroelectric dam project

Find capable company to kick off Upper Padas Hydroelectric dam project

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KOTA KINABALU – The Upper Padas Hydroelectric dam project was a good masterplan.

It was supposed to be the answer to Sabahans wish for a more stable power supply.

Yet, 10 years on since it was mooted in 2013, the project has yet to take off, far from the original plan to see it running by 2019.

It was learnt that the project was suspended for many years due to technical design issues.

Based on the final Special Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) report, the project, which was originally initiated by the Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB), has been assigned to the Upper Padas Power Sdn Bhd.

The project is supposed to be at the Padas basin around Kuala Tomani in Tenom, and the plant would have a capacity of 180MW and involve a water catchment area of only 590ha or 2.3ha per megawatt.

The site is home to 46 mammal species, of which 25 or 54 per cent are protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, as well as 238 bird species were recorded, consisting 50 species (18 per cent) are listed as “protected” under the same enactment.

In 2018, the Upper Padas Power Sdn Bhd has appointed Chemsain Konsultant Sdn Bhd to carry out a SEIA (Revised) report for the Project.

Under the Environment Protection Department (EPD) of Sabah, a SEIA is required if the Project has special magnitude and sensitivity regarding the environmental impacts which may extend beyond the geographical boundaries of the project site and/or can adversely affect the welfare of local communities.

According to the Chemsain Konsultant Sdn Bhd, the Upper Padas area was identified under the Sabah Power Development Master Plan 1984 as one of the promising sites to develop a hydroelectric scheme to cater for the rising need of electricity in Sabah.

Chemsain disclosed that the main components of the project include:

  • A reservoir with surface area of NTWL of 6.6 km2 and a regulation storage capacity of 256 Mm3.
  • A 130-m high Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) gravity dam with a gated main spillway.
  • A power intake located as a separate structure adjacent to the upstream face of the dam.
  • A 9.3-km long concrete lined headrace tunnel with a diameter of 5.5 m connected to a surge shaft located at the downstream end of the tunnel.
  • A 300-m long steel penstock with a diameter of 5.5 m down to a 180-MW power house, equipped with three Francis turbine units.
  • A tailrace canal, with a length of 330 m, to return the generation flows to the Upper Padas River.
  • Potentially two quarries and three disposal sites within the project boundary.
  • Establishment of construction camps and residential housing.

Sabahans are now keeping their fingers crossed, hoping that the project will finally be implemented. Hopefully.

But, the Sabah Government must not deny alternatives to better the power supply in the state.

It is learnt that a company is interested to invest in the Upper Padas project and is offering an additional of RM68.362 million a year, with energy at 1,028 GWh/year, which is RM2.734 billion over four decades.

The state will be paying RM315.08 million per-annum at 30.65 sen, instead of RM246.72 million at 24 sen, an increase of 27.7 per cent due to the fault of the existing concessionaire.

It is vital to consider any alternatives to better the power supply in the state, and to take Sabah out of the stigma for having the highest power disruptions in the country.

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