Harris joins fight against proposed coal-fired plant.
KOTA KINABALU: A former chief minister is lending his voice to the growing opposition against a proposed coal-fired power plant in Sabah’s east coast.
Datuk Harris Salleh said it was difficult to understand why the state authorities insisted on having the 300MW coal-fired plant at Felda Sahabat in Lahad Datu.
“It’s not the end of the world if we do not have coal-fired power generation,” he said, adding that the authorities should take note of the objections made and alternative suggested.
This included a 300MW gas-fired plant at Kimanis in Sabah’s west coast and that electricity can be channelled to the east coast via a southern grid from Kimanis to Tawau scheduled to be completed in 2012 as outlined in the Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd’s power master plan for the state.
“The government invested some RM600mil in the East-West coast grid several years ago. This grid can transmit 1,000MW of electricity across Sabah but presently, it is only transmitting up to 100MW per day. It is much underused,” he said.
Harris said the east-west and southern grids were supposed to act as the state stransmission loop designed to carry 1,000MW between Sabah’s east and west coasts without any fear of interruption.
He said the southern grid would also enable the transmission of some 200MW of power from the Ulu Tomani hydro dam which is now being built.
Harris said power generation through the use of biomass should not be simply dismissed, noting that he made a switch from diesel generators to hydro and biogas at a cost of RM2mil to generate 1MW of power at his 3,000ha Balung plantation near Tawau.
He said concerns about the coal-fired plant next to Darvel Bay, which has a diverse marine life, were valid.
“It is the best marine environment not just in Malaysia but also the world as a breeding and feeding ground for marine life,” Harris said.
He said that in the long-term, the coal-fired plant would cause serious ecological damage to “our richest seafood basket.”