The Bakun dam is located on the Balui river in the upper Rejang river basin, 37 kilometers upstream from Belaga town.

Minister of Finance Incorporated Malaysia’s wholly-owned subsidiary Sarawak Hidro has been entrusted to develop and manage the Bakun hydroelectric project since May 1, 2000.

“The impoundment of the dam will start in January next year. However, it is subject to the state government’s approval and the impoundment will take a minimum of eight months,” Sarawak Hidro’s Managing Director Zulkifle Osman said.

“The first turbine will start operating when the whole reservoir flooded. By then, the Bakun Hydroelectric dam will generate 300MW of electricity by October or November next year,” said Zulkifle.

A body consisting of Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Sarawak Eenergy Berhad and the Sarawak government as shareholders, will be set up to operate the Bakun dam based on a lease.

Sarawak Hidro’s General Manager Tan Yong Long said that the construction of the Bakun dam to generate 2,400 MW electricity was 92.84% completed as of September 2009.

Tan further continued that the dam is expected to be fully operational by end of 2011, and would still require the laying of submarine cables to transmit electricity to Peninsular Malaysia.

“The first 675-kilometre long submarine cable will link Sematan in southern Sarawak to Tanjung Leman in Mersing, Johor, and is expected to be completed in 2016 to transmit 1,700MW of electricity to Peninsular Malaysia,” said Tan.

On the environmental impact, Tan said that wildlife found in areas that are to be inundated were being rescued and moved to unaffected areas, together with valuable flora such as rare plants and trees.

“We are clearing of a total area of 455 hectares at selected areas for future development along the shoreline, within 15 radius of the dam. The work commenced in January this year,” said Tan.

“On wildlife rescue, we collaborated with Sarawak Forestry Corporation on at least six targeted islands formed during the impoundment, within 50 kilometres upstream of the dam. Plant rescue started in July this year. Animal rescue will commence once impoundment starts,” added Tan.