Sunday, July 24, 2011



KOTA KINABALU (24th July 2011): Renewable energy must be given a shot in the arm following the new pricing for electricity that kicked in for Sabah and Labuan on July 15, Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future) said today.

The recommendation comes in wake of Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd’s (SESB) new pricing structure that promotes efficient use of power, lessening the Government’s burden in providing subsidies for ever increasing fuel costs and addressing the depletion of fossil fuel resources.

Green SURF’s call is in line with the viability of renewable energy options that the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at the University of California in Berkeley prepared last year. The coalition of non-governmental organisations had commissioned the RAEL report at the height of its opposition towards a proposed coal-fired power plant for the state.

Coalition spokesperson Cynthia Ong said the report advocates the phasing out of costly fossil-fuel subsidies which distort energy markets and provide them an unfair advantage over unsubsidized renewable energy resources.

“According to the report which we made public and even sent to Parliament, restructuring incentives for generation of power from fossil-fuels including oil and gas, will make renewable energy options more cost competitive and stimulate increased clean energy development.

“It is clear from SESB’s own statement that the tariff restructuring carried out by them was linked to Government subsidies for rising fuel costs.

“Sabah is in the position to push renewable energy forward given our global standing as one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet, but we need support from the Federal Government which is in control of energy matters. We are willing to work with the Government and SESB on this,” she said in a statement.

Green SURF decided to share its views on the recent power tariff hike, the first by SESB in 25 years, following queries from the public on what the coalition thought of the issue.

The coalition also received feedback from the author of the RAEL report, Professor Dan Kammen who is now at the World Bank as its Chief Technical Specialist for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, over SESB’s decision to introduce a new tariff.

Kammen said a recent systematic study of fossil fuel subsidies showed that it primarily benefitted the more affluent energy consumers.

He said the joint World Bank and International Energy Agency report concluded that “phasing out fossil fuel subsidies represents a triple-win solution” and that it would enhance energy security, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and bring immediate economic gains.

Meanwhile, to strengthen its case, Green SURF also made reference to the REN21 publication “Renewables 2011: Global Status Report” released this month which stated that at the end of last year, renewables delivered close to a fifth of the world’s power supply.