The Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) expects five of its 14 planned power interconnections, approved under the Asean Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation, to be commissioned between 2005 and 2009, the Malaysian Business Times reported.


It quoted an official at the Asean Secretariat as saying that the five new interconnections will include the construction of the transmission lines linking Peninsular Malaysia with Sumatra in Indonesia and Sarawak in Malaysia with West Kalimantan in Indonesia.


Tenaga Nasional Bhd and Indonesia’s PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara have commissioned a feasibility study for the proposed inter-connection projects, the report said.


Work on the transmission grids is expected to start next year, while the commissioning of the interconnections is scheduled to begin by 2009, it said.


Apart from the two projects, the other three interconnections expected to be ready for commissioning in 2005-2009 are the transmission grids linking Vietnam with Cambodia, Thailand with Cambodia, and Thailand with Laos.


The official said the Vietnam-Cambodia interconnection is scheduled to be commissioned between 2005 and 2007, for Thailand-Cambodia by 2007 and Thailand-Laos by 2009.


The heads of Asean power utilities or authorities (Hapua), tasked with implementing the Asean power grid programme, completed the Asean Interconnection Masterplan Study (Aims) in March last year, identifying the 14 interconnection projects.


During the 21st Asean Energy Ministers Meeting in June last year in Langkawi, the ministers approved 11 of the projects endorsed by Hapua.


Aims will serve as the reference guide in the implementation of the Asean interconnection projects.


Two of the interconnection projects are already operational: The Peninsular Malaysia-Singapore interconnection and the Thailand-Peninsular Malaysia Stage 1 and Stage 2 interconnections.


The remaining seven interconnections, which are expected to be commissioned after 2009, are Sarawak-Peninsular Malaysia; Batam-Bintan-Singapore-Johor; Philippines-Sabah; Sarawak-Sabah-Brunei; Laos-Vietnam; Thailand-Myanmar; and Laos-Cambodia.


The Hapua will continue to conduct studies to come up with appropriate recommendations to overcome barriers to interconnections. Studies to be undertaken will cover areas such as policy, regulatory, legal, financial and commercial frameworks.


In another development, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it had not made any decision on the possibility of providing loans amounting to US$140 million to Malaysia and Indonesia for the construction of the electricity transmission grids linking the two countries.


According to the Jakarta Post, the ADB was said to have indicated that it wanted to fund electricity grids linking Sumatra with Peninsular Malaysia and West Kalimantan with Sarawak.


An ADB official said that in terms of the bank’s involvement in these projects, it is still at an early conceptual stage.


Nevertheless, the official said that if the ADB got involved in the financing of the projects, it would be to facilitate the process on the Indonesian side.


“Currently, the ADB does not lend to Malaysia and this is not likely to change,” the official said.


According to the report, the loan agreement was supposed to be signed this month, but there had been no development as yet.


It was said that the Peninsular Malaysia-Sumatra grid would cost about US$100 million and the Sarawak-West Kalimantan grid about US$40 million.


Earlier reports said Tenaga and PT PLN had awarded a contract worth almost S$1 million (US$610,500) to Shaw Power Technology Inc, a US-based consulting engineering firm, to conduct a feasibility study on the proposed Malaysia-Indonesia power system interconnection projects.


The US company is expected to complete the study by the end of this month.


The two grids are part of a plan by South-East Asian nations to link 14 electricity transmission grids in the region to reduce the need to build more power plants.