Will SESB Be Ready For Jan 3 Takeover?

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KOTA KINABALU: In less than a month, the state’s utility company – Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) – will be wholly under the Sabah Government’s care.

This bold move of taking full regulatory control of its electricity supply means that the Sabah Government has more autonomy to chart its policy and planning to manage and develop its energy production and supply, as well as making short and long-term plans while drafting its laws and enactments.

While some quarters are excited about taking over, some are not so keen.

Those who are in favour believe that the State would be best to manage the electricity supply on its own, because who knows better about the critical issues of energy for Sabah than Sabahans?

As far as the financial issue is concerned, the Federal Government had assured the State Government that it would still be giving subsidies for SESB for the next seven years.

That should give SESB ample time to straighten itself up, or is it?

SESB, under the chairmanship of Datuk Seri Madius Tangau, seems to doubt themselves.

He was reported saying that SESB needs to be a strong company to finance itself and cover its own costs before the official handover on Jan 3 next year.

Tangau admitted that SESB still needs the government’s help since the company is operating at a loss as the purchase of power from independent power producers (IPPs) is at a rate of 43 sen per unit, but sold to consumers at 34 sen.

The utility company is not able to cover its operating costs due to several factors, he said, which is causing the company to bear the extra cost. SESB can generate and own 20 per cent of the basic electrical load requirement in Sabah.

The balance is generated by IPPs before being sold to SESB, and according to Tangau, they would need 70 per cent of the basic electrical load to resolve power disruptions in the state.

With that in mind, would SESB be able to sustain and stand on its own?

Would Tangau be able to solve the problem ahead of the handover?

Whatever it is, all Sabahans want is a stable electricity supply. Maybe by then, SESB will be true to its name, and not ridiculed as “Sabah Electricity Selalu Blackout”.

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