Wednesday, April 23, 2008


SESB blames vandals
Steel theft causes transmission tower to collapse, triggering domino effect, says MD

Vandalism has been blamed for Sabah’s worst power failure that affected some 300,000 consumers in most parts of the State on Monday. According to Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) Managing Director, Baharin Din, the collapsed transmission tower at Suang Parai area here showed obvious signs of vandalism. About 20 section members (pieces of steel) were removed from the 132 kilovolt (KV) transmission tower, thus resulting in the collapse and massive statewide outage that lasted for about six hours from 6.4lpm on Monday, he said. Baharin told a Press conference yesterday that this was the worst blackout in the State since the commissioning of the East-West Power Grid in November last year. The transmission line between Kayu Madang and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) collapsed, leading to a power trip that caused a domino effect, tripping all SESB at independent power plants connect to the various grids, he explained. “Then the RM400,000 transmission tower collapsed; all the lines lost connectivity and power cannot be transmitted to all area And since the frequency dropped the system could not sustain, an crashed as well,” he said. As a result, SESB lost about 50 megawatts (MW) of power, affecting, consumers in the West, East and Northeast, West and East coasts of Sabah, as well as part of Labuan. Luckier consumers residing in Beaufort, Keningau, Tambunan Tenom, Telupid and Ranau were no affected by the blackout as they are not connected to the grid system and have their own power generation. Baharin said SESB’s 15454 hotline number had been ringing non-stop with the number of calls shooting u from the average 500 a day to at least 50,000 within the six hours. Power restoration was carried out in stages at the affected areas, starting from 7. 15pm (Monday) and supply was fully restored by 12. 15am on Tuesday,” he said. “We believe the vandals had stolen the section members, hoping to make some money but at the expense of many consumers in the State,” he said. “They could have probably earned RM40 in scrap value but caused huge losses and inconveniences to the people of Sabah, and probably even to themselves. The State’s economy also suffered.” Asked whether the act of vandalism was committed overnight, Baharin said: “This activity could not have been done in one night or for a long period. Our guess is that it had taken the suspects a few days. Currently, steps are being taken to build a temporary tower with the help of SESBs parent company, Tenaga Nasional Berhad and : Armed Forces personnel,” he said. The tower will be sent down and set up within three weeks before a permanent tower is erected in four months, he said. “Right now, the situation is fragile as we are using an alternative underground 66KV cable to channel power from one of the generation plants here,” Baharin said. The West Coast of the State is providing most of the power supply to the east coast areas where the generation capacity is low due to the use of old diesel-powered generators. He said SESB might implement load shedding, depending on the peak demands between 11am and noon and 3pm and noon, and if the situation warrants. Asked why there was no mechanism to stop the power supply but right now, there is just enough power domino effect of the tripping, Baharin replied: “Such a to meet the demand. Sabah does not have that luxury mechanism can only be done if there is an excess of yet.”