Green SURF: Gas from Sabah a viable option to coal

KOTA KINABALU (19th July 2010): Use locally available natural gas and improve the efficiency of existing power plants as immediate steps to overcome electricity shortage in Sabah while keeping tariffs low.

Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future) spokesman Wong Tack said it should not take the government more than two years to expand on gas powered plants and to also upgrade the East West grid if there are problems with the facility.

Reacting to the statement made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that the cost of alternative energy is too high for consumers in Sabah, Wong said the nation’s leader has been misinformed on the fact that there are other sources of power to a proposed coal plant.

“We want to stress that we have natural gas which we should be using locally for our power needs.

“We are not only talking about renewable energy from biomass waste, which in any case, studies have shown to be a cost competitive option to coal,” he said in a statement.

The Prime Minister had on Sunday said that in the short term, there are not many alternatives to a coal plant for Sabah to get continuous and uninterrupted supply at a reasonable cost.

Green SURF is concerned that a dirty source of energy is being proposed for an area known as a seafood basket, leaking massive amounts of toxic discharge into a productive marine ecosystem, which is also a valuable environmental asset at the apex of the Coral Triangle.

Though it covers only one per cent of the earth’s surface, the Coral Triangle is home to over 30 per cent of the world’s coral reefs and slightly more than a third of the world’s coral reef fish species.

The controversial 300 megawatt proposed coal plant at Kampung Sinakut on the shores of the Dent peninsula, was cancelled twice at other locations due to local protests on the environment and health of the people.

Wong said even if the coal plant in Lahad Datu is eventually forced on Sabahans, it will not solve the current shortage as the first phase will only be ready in three years.

“The coal plant is not a solution if there is an urgency to improve power supply. We believe the Prime Minister was misinformed and the decision to build a coal plant was misguided.

“The government should be able too expand natural gas plants and upgrade the grid system before the next elections. By having power in place, the government wont risk losing power in the elections,” he said.

Wong said once more natural gas is used and inefficiencies are corrected, green alternative energy sources can come into the picture.

He said both international and local energy experts have come up with reports to show that Sabah stands to gain from venturing into the green economy.

“Green technologies create job opportunities. We have millions of tonnes in waste from oil palm. Foreigners are making pallets from oil palm waste here in Sabah and sending it back to their countries for clean energy,” he said.

Wong also expressed disappointment that Green SURF was once again unable to meet Najib despite months of efforts.

“We could not even get two minutes of his time when he was in Sabah over the weekend. This is not in line with the 1Malaysia concept which promises that the people come first. We just want an opportunity to tell him that there are viable alternatives to a coal plant,” he said.

Green SURF is a coalition of five non-governmental organisations – Sabah Environment Protection Association (SEPA), WWF-Malaysia, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Partners of Community Organisations (Pacos) and Malaysia Nature Society.

For further queries on this Press release, please contact Mr Wong Tack at 013-885 1232.

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