SESB chairman welcomes regulatory powers over electricity for Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau has welcomed the delegation of power by the Federal Government to Sabah over the regulatory control of the state’s electricity supply.

The Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) chairman said this was after the passing of three Bills during the special state assembly sitting on Wednesday (Jan 3).

He said the Bills were timely in view of the reforms taking place in governance and subsequently in respect of power decentralisation which will expand the Sabah government’s autonomy that previously did not cover regulatory authority on power supply.

“I wish the highest appreciation to the Federal Government who gave the trust and confidence to Sabah,” he said, in a statement here Thursday (Jan 4).

“To the Sabah government, congratulations on the willingness to shoulder the challenging responsibility as this is a historic achievement.

“At the same time, I also hope the autonomy can be widened to include SESB as the utility company that deals in supplying electricity to Sabah and Labuan,” Tangau added.

The special session of the Sabah assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed the Sabah Energy Commission Enactment 2023 (Amendment 2024) Bill, Electricity Supply Enactment Bill 2024, and Sabah Renewable Energy Enactment Bill 2024.

This means Sabah took back full regulatory authority of its power supply and renewable energy after handing it over to the Federal Government 40 years ago.

Tangau, who is Tuaran MP, however, said that SESB still belonged to Tenaga Nasional Berhad which owns 80% of the shares in the utility company, with Sabah owning most of the remaining shares.

He said the federal Finance Ministry was the “golden shareholder” as the government institution granting RM1bil in the form of Tariff Support Subsidy (TSS) and fuel subsidy.

“To become a company under the Sabah government, TNB’s 80% shares must be bought over by the state,” he said.

Towards this end, Tangau said the financial challenge Sabah has to shoulder in order to own SESB which was fully dependent on the subsidies from Putrajaya.

Technically, he said, SESB was bankrupt considering the power tariff imposed on consumers was much lower at 34sen per unit compared to the acquisition or generation of power at 43sen per unit.

“In other words, SESB is accumulating losses of around almost 10sen for every unit of electricity sold to consumers.

“To take on the losses, the Federal Government is giving out subsidies, in which in the last year alone it granted some RM800mil to SESB.

“This challenge must be taken into consideration and handled by Sabah in an effort to take over full ownership of SESB,” said Tangau.

He said, however, he had full confidence this can be achieved in seven years if every stakeholder worked together to realise the SESB Transformation Plan.