KOTA KINABALU 5/10/2012: Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) has refuted claims that its diesel-fuelled power stations in Ranau were emitting heavy black smoke and a threat to the health of surrounding communities.
Managing director Ir Abd Razak Salim said SESB had always emphasised on running only generators with emission under the legal limit, rejecting recent online reports as an excessive exaggeration and highly inaccurate.
“Technically, there has to be some smoke from the generators but not nearly as bad as claimed in the reports. If you browse through Sabahkini, the picture they used is not of our power station, and in fact we managed to trace the source of the picture to be from the Philippines,” he said this to reporters yesterday.
Online news portal Sabahkini reported on Tuesday that thick black smoke from SESB’s diesel generators in Ranau has caused nearby buildings to turn black and residents in the district were very much concerned that the pollution would affect their health.
A similar report was published in August by another online portal, e-SabahDaily, quoting opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) as saying the generators were seriously polluting the air and could jeopardize tourism activities in the district.
It was also reported that the engines were overloaded during peak hours, causing them to discharge excessive emission.
Abd Razak, who was met during a site visit to Project Rentis in Inanam here yesterday, said SESB being a responsible organisation has registered all its generators with the related authorities, which regularly monitor the machines to ensure they met the requirements and fit for operation.
“You are required to submit a complete report on the machines every month, maybe you can cheat in your report once but it is impossible to continue doing it and not get caught.
“Some people said SESB need to maintain these engines, and we in fact have done an excellent job in maintaining them. Otherwise, how can they last 20 to 30 years? They may not as efficient as new engines but they still run well.
“In conclusion, yes there are some smoke but it is all under the legal limit,” he said, adding that it was considered normal for diesel generator more than five years old to produce noticeable emission during start-up.
He explained the generators in Ranau have to be run in rotation to allow for maintenance and they usually produce higher emission during the initial internal combustion but the smoke immediately lessened as the engines stabilized.
However, he said the engines sometimes produce excessive emission due to mechanical problems, and in such cases they would be shut down immediately for repair.
“We will never allow the machines to continuously operate with black smoke. In fact, many blackouts were due to generators being shut down for repair,” he added.
Ranau is still relying on Off-Grid power supply system where electricity is generated locally using several diesel generators that are not linked to the state grid.
Ongoing work on the 132kv power line connecting the district into the grid via Kota Belud is expected to be fully completed in three years, after which all the diesel engines will be decommissioned.
by Murib Morpi