Coal-plant reprieve in 2011 budget

Posted on October 26, 2010. Filed under: Climate Change |

By Queville To

KOTA KINABALU: The 2011 budget appears to be another nail in the coffin of the proposed coal-fired power plant on a beach-front in Lahad Datu.

But the government is keeping mum on the plant, whose environment impact assessment was rejected earlier this year in an embarrassing blow to its government-linked proponents.

The coal plant which stirred a fire-storm of protests in the state however is still on the minds of the coalition of anti coal-plant NGOs, Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future).

They have urged the government to come clean on the status of the plant and on the plans for clean electricity production on the eas coast of the state.

The request from Green SURF comes two months after the federal Department of Environment (DOE) rejected the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) report for the 300 megawatt project.

Green SURF spokesman Wong Tack said the coalition was still waiting for a decision on whether the project will continue.

“We would like to know the stand of the authorities, in particular the Sabah government. Green SURF wrote to the Sabah government over three weeks ago, but we have yet to get feedback.

“We hope the state government will take a stand based on the importance of the east coast of Sabah as a marine habitat. A huge amount is now being invested for activities in these areas, including through the national Budget for 2011,” he said in a statement issued here Monday.

Wong said there was still anxiety over the proposed plant.

“The public is asking for the state to focus on developing energy from renewable and green sources,” Wong said.

He said that while the power shortage problem in Sabah was still serious, time had been wasted on pushing for a controversial power plant, which has already been shifted three times.

Expedite projects

Green SURF has also received indirect support from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak who spoke recently on the need to make a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy as a way to create a firm foundation for a greener economy.

Wong said the Renewable Energy Policy and Action Plan and a dedicated statutory body called the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA Malaysia), must get to work quickly.

He said the construction of a 300-megawatt Combined-Cycle Gas Power Plant in Kimanis as announced in the recent budget must be expedited to increase electricity generation to meet rising demand.

The budget also listed pioneer status and investment tax allowance for the generation of electricity from renewable sources and energy efficiency activities to be extended until Dec 31, 2015.

It further listed the implementation of a tariff mechanism under the Renewable Energy Act to allow electricity generated by individuals and independent providers to be sold to electricity utility companies.

“This is not the time to just talk, but to do something. We are glad that better feed in tariffs are being considered for implementation.

“Such initiatives are needed for investors to take up renewable energy projects.

“The Government has to make it attractive for the private sector to play a role in developing green energy,” Wong said.

Green SURF comprises the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) of which Wong is president, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), WWF-Malaysia, Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) and the Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah branch).

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