New study in Energy Policy: Indigenous community preferences for electricity services: Evidence from a choice experiment in Sarawak, Malaysia

In this new publication, two members of the Smart Villages team along with Malaysian experts from Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia explore the question of whether communities prefer a community-based model or a utility-based model.

The researchers found that the most value was placed on the operator-model underpinning the provision of electricity services and that there was a strong preference for a community-based model over a utility-based model.

Interestingly, their results suggest that the preference for a community-based operator model may be related to the experience of using electricity for productive uses.

The researchers contend that the results demonstrate the importance of social and institutional challenges to providing electricity services to indigenous communities in Sarawak and highlight the need for the state utility to engage with indigenous communities to overcome these challenges.

For questions about this new study, please contact terry AT or claudia AT

This study’s results indicate that operator models such as Sarawak Energy‘s project SARES, which has a community-utility hybrid-based operator model, would be preferable to communities. Sarawak Energy describes SARES as:

This innovative government-community partnership model will see the mobilisation of government machinery and agencies to help villagers build and subsequently own and operate more sustainable and affordable electricity generating systems with follow-up training provided periodically. The agencies are also committed to providing long-term support on operations and maintenance.

SARES systems cater to typical rural household electricity needs with lighting, fans, a television, freezer and cooker. The designs are focused on simplicity of operation without compromising on safety. Villagers can choose to maintain separate diesel generators to supplement supply during festive celebrations or as backup during Sarawak’s seasonal monsoons or droughts.