TNB — powering up Malaysia for 70 years

TNB has been lighting up homes in small towns and villages before the then Malaya gained its independence in 1957

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH/ pic by TMR FILE

THERE is no doubt that electricity is a significant component to the economic and social development of a country.

Global access to electricity has been steadily rising in recent years as the World Bank estimates that 3.78 billion people or only 71.4% of the population in 1990 had access to power generation.

The progress of power generation holds true when the people who have access to electricity rose to 87.3% about three years ago, while in 2015, the population which do not have access fell under the one billion mark. In the case of Malaysia, the country has been enjoying the deliberate system of a connected grid which is powered up by Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) for almost 70 years.

In the book “People Behind The Lights”, National Electricity Board (NEB) former GM Tan Sri Jalaluddin Zainuddin said the development of the modern society in Malaysia and how they came to terms with technology, is well connected to the development of utility entities.

“The history of the electricity supply in Malaysia is fascinating.

“It is first and foremost, a story of technical advancement of the introduction of new technologies, of a nation’s struggle to acquire knowledge and competence in new and exciting fields, of the evolution of abilities and confidence,” Jalaluddin said.

TNB has been lighting up homes in small towns and villages before the then Malaya gained its independence in 1957.

Before TNB privatisation in 1990, the utility giant was known as the Central Electricity Board (CEB), a regulatory body established in 1949 before being transformed into the NEB.

TNB’s transformation plan, dubbed Reimagining TNB 2025, signals the utility’s vision for its next step

Environmental Awareness

Today, TNB is a utility firm with a total domestic generating capacity of 10,917.53MW and a line of the distribution network of 660,038km through the state-of-the-art technologies — with an emphasis on environmental health.

For instance, the fourth instalment of the Sultan Azlan Shah Power Plant in Lumut, Perak, is the first coal power plant in South-East Asia to use the ultra-supercritical (USC) technology.

TNB chairman Tan Sri Leo Moggie — who served as energy, communications and multimedia minister from 1998 to 2004 — has anticipated the amelioration of the utility body since his ministerial days from the 70s.

For example, TNB’s transformation plan, dubbed Reimagining TNB 2025, signals the utility’s vision for its next step.

“The solid foundations we have put in place today have transformed our internal processes and structure to render TNB to be more technologically-advanced and cost-optimised than we were before,” he said.

Moggie also explained that TNB has been adapting to the anticipated changes in the power generation industry to keep pace with the industrial advancement around the world. He cited the times when the world had embarked on the establishment of independent power producers (IPPs) in the 90s.

“The oncoming disruption to the energy supply value chain, underpinned by new technology breakthroughs, changing regulatory environment and evolving customer expectations, present a whole new business landscape for TNB in the coming years,” he said.

He added that Malaysia had managed to provide engineers for the newly established IPPs when the first power generator was being built in the country, while the expertise was mainly coming from TNB.

In Sync with Technological Changes

The preparedness signifies the utility company’s responsibilities in shaping the market talent for the power generation industry, which is constantly evolving with new technological changes while being insightful and innovative of future changes.

Realising the importance of local expertise, TNB has established its own education centre, partly to supply talents to work in the power industry.

Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten), a private higher-education institution, was set up in 1999 as a continuation to Sultan Ahmad Shah Training Institute and Tenaga Nasional Institute of Engineering Technology.

These training institutes were initially served as the corporate training centres for NEB, which was later transformed into a higher learning institute.

Being the pride and joy of the TNB, Uniten has been producing sought-after graduates with industrial knowledge.

Moggie, who is also Uniten

chairman and pro-chancellor, said employability statistics by the Education Ministry showed that 95% of Uniten graduates were hired within six months after completion, while 32% managed to secure positions in multinational companies.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance Hails from Kanowit, Sarawak, Moggie is well aware of the significance of education, particularly to the rural population, and how simple electrification can improve one’s learning.

“That is why we have earmarked funds each year to provide scholarships, including for specific programmes, for those who are from the bottom 40% (B40) income group background, and loans to bright young Malaysians for them to have a brighter future.

“Throughout the years, TNB has been a strong proponent in bettering lives by offering scholarships and financial assistance to the needy and those from the lower-income group.

“Beneficiaries from our TNB ‘Back to School’ programme include deserving B40 primary school students who received assistance in terms of basic school supplies, such as school uniforms and stationery,” he said.

Moggie added that through TNB’s “Dermasiswa My Brighter Future (MyBF)” programme launched last August, a total of 945 students, who are in the B40 bracket, had pursued their tertiary education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in local universities financed by TNB through its Tenaga Nasional Foundation.

As TNB celebrated its 70th anniversary on Sept 1, Moggie said the transformation of the global energy supply industry will continue to accelerate as the forces of decarbonisation, decentralisation, deregulation and digitalisation of the industry further shape how electricity is generated, distributed and consumed.

“TNB strives to be a reliable partner and an anchor to our stakeholders and the nation in meeting the challenges ahead.

“In commemorating our 70th anniversary of being a nation builder, we remain confident that our highly skilled workforce, coupled with the measures executed under our Reimagining TNB strategy will position us favourably in capturing new opportunities arising from the industry’s journey towards a more sustainable future,” he added.