Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sabah blackout: SESB passes buck, blames IPP

KOTA KINABALU: The perennial blame game in the statewide power blackout in Sabah on Jan 17 that crippled telecommunications, caused traffic jams, disrupted banking, closed eateries, left long lines at petrol stations and affected 500,000 consumers has resumed.

The Sabah Electricity Sdn bhd (SESB) managing director Ir Abdul Razak Salim yesterday said investigations into teh blackout showed that it was due to the shutdown of four generators at an Independent Power Producer (IPP) station in Sepanggar.
He said the findings on the outage which affected about 500,000 consumers were made by the special committee set up by SESB to investigate the incident.

“Prior to the incident, the generation capacity was 877MW while the demand was 731MW.
“There was a still a margin of 146MW, which showed that the grid in Sabah was in good order,” he told reporters after presenting a briefing to Cabinet Ministers on the issue.
However, when there was a disruption at one of the IPP gas generators and at Patau-Patau, Labuan, the capacity decreased to 633.6MW and when SESB applied load shedding the demand decreased to 585.1MW.
SESB still had a margin of 48.5MW and could still support the demand, he said.
Abdul Razak said the IPP’s action caused the generation capacity to decrease to 525MW as opposed to the demand of 585MW, or supply deficit of 60MW.
He said the shut down by the IPP of the four generators in 23 seconds prevented SESB from resorting to load shedding to balance the demand and generation capacity at the time.
“When four generators at the Salut station were shut down manually, it resulted in a decrease in frequency below the safety level, prompting the collapse of the whole system in Sabah at 11.11 am,” he said.
Abdul Razak said SESB was informed by the IPP management that they needed to shut down the four generators because of technical problems, among them, the gas damper which had malfunctioned and could lead to massive damage if not shut down.
SESB fails to convince Musa
Meanwhile, Sabah Energy Commission west coast director Nazlin Abd Alim Sidiki said the commission was still investigating and looking for evidence before finalising their findings on the actual cause of the outage.
She said under the Electricity Supply Act and Electricity Regulations 1994, the licence issued by the commission to the IPPs including SESB could be revoked if there was evidence that they did not comply with the guidelines.
Following the meeting, a dissatisfied Musa said while the state understood that there is a shortage of power supply in Sabah, “the fail-safe system should have done what it is supposed to do.”
“It’s counter productive to have a system that does not do the job,” he said after SESB’s briefing.
Earlier this week, leaders from Barisan Nasional component parties took Musa, SESB and Kota Marudu MP, Maximus Ongkili, the federal minister in charge of Energy, Green Technology and Water, who is also a deputy president of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) to task over the statewide power outage.
BN leaders here are keenly aware that blackout fiasco barely two months after Ongkili announced that the federal government had allocated RM1.4 billion over the next five years to improve power supply and complete the loop from Tawau to Keningau to put an end to habitual outages.
Upko, MCA and Gerakan leaders had called for heads to roll, demanding among others that SESB compensate consumers and that an independent body audit SESB’s investigation into the blackout.
Upko’s secretary general Donald Mojuntin hinted that there was “something really wrong” in the SESB management since blackouts keep occurring daily and even a few times a day in some places.
Mojuntin hinted that there was “something really wrong” in the SESB management since blackouts keep occurring daily and even a few times a day in some places.
He also took aim at the performance of the heavily subsidised IPPs engaged by SESB following allegations that they are using obsolete equipment.
“My understanding is that whether these IPPs are in operation or not (due to breakdown), contractually SESB is still required to pay them.
“Surely these IPPs should use state of the art equipment as SESB and subsequently the consumers rely on them,” he said.

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