A Malaysian business expert has renewed a private sector group’s proposal for a transoceanic grid that will supply affordable power to Palawan from the states of Sabah and Sarawak where there are excessive supply of gas and hydroelectricity.
Datuk Roselan Johar Mohamed, a member of the BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BEBC) in Malaysia, said he hopes that the proposal for the power interconnection would be considered by local and national government officials so Palawan could enjoy reasonably-priced and stable electricity.
Mohamed said the linkage will bring power from Sabah or Sarawak states to Barangay Buliluyan in Bataraza, southern Palawan, to El Nido municipality in the north.
“This interconnection is very important because what I supply in Buliluyan can reach El Nido. This is very good for Palawan because you don’t have to raise money to build a power plant,” he said during the 1st Northern Palawan Business Forum, Matching and Expo in El Nido on August 15-17.
Mohamed said the electricity can be supplied to the province by submarine cables that can be established by end of 2020 or early 2021 if the Philippine government will decide to accept it and sign the agreement this year.
He said that the system from Malaysia will not demand a huge capital investment.
“Our system in Malaysia will require no huge capital investment. We just connect to you, you pay us every month, no need to buy materials that will cost millions or billions to build, operate, or finance a power plant,” he said.
On the province’s plan to build a power plant, Mohamed said it should wait for 25 years because it is not yet feasible yet.
“My advice is to wait after 25 years. You’re not ready now, it is not feasible because the population of Palawan is only 1.1 million, but your population of the tourists is 1.8 million so we have more tourists in Palawan than natural people, these people come and go. With the hope of our close proximity, we will make sure that supply from Sabah or Sarawak will not be a problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, BEBC chairman Vicente Lao said it will be an advantage for Palawan if Malaysia will push for the power linkage since submarine cables are cheaper than building a power plant.
“We are happy if they will really push that business decision kasi supplying a transmission cable is not cheap so they have to look for viability of supplying power to Palawan. If Palawan is willing to buy and the demand is big enough, they will be able to compete, because the other option there for Palawan is to put up a power generating plant,” he said.
He said the proposal was raised in the past, but he does not know what happened to it or if the provincial government is considering it.
Lao said it was suggested because Palawan has already said experiencing power interruptions.
“I have no idea what happened to the transaction. There was a time din kasi na medyo na-shelve ‘yan siguro dahil sa funding need, medyo malaking pera ‘yan kapag maglatag ka ng submarine power without a firm commitment from the buyer which is the Palawan government. They might be hesitant to invest, siguro sinigurado muna nila ang kontrata,” he said.