The RM7.3 billion Bakun Dam in Sarawak, already condemned as a catastrophe for the environment and tribal people, is now battling suggestions it could become a giant white elephant.
With ambitious plans for an undersea cable to feed the Bakun's electricity to the Malaysian peninsula now abandoned, the Sarawak government is the only feasible buyer -- leaving it with a very strong hand.
"I understand there's quite a huge mismatch," she said. "I'm not sure what they've incorporated into the pricing, but the cost of the project has gone up so much since it was started."
"So the question is, are you going to incorporate all the compensation costs in the tariff price?" said Wong.
With the indigenous people from the Bakun catchment area long since resettled and its valuable timber resources long since felled, the dam has been ready to be flooded since April.
The state government had delayed permission, saying it was still evaluating river levels and the impact on boat transport.
Sarawak Hidro managing director Zulkiflie Osman played down suggestions that he has been held to ransom by the state government.
"Both parties are working together and want it to be settled amicably, with a tariff acceptable to both parties," he said, adding that he expected to strike a tariff deal before December.
The next of Sarawak's mega-dams, the Murum, which is being developed by the state government, is due to come online in 2013 but Osman said he was convinced the state authorities will not bypass Bakun in favour of its own project.
Alongside the power purchase negotiations, the federal government is also said to be discussing selling the entire Bakun facility to the state government, but pricing and finance problems have emerged.
The federal government was reportedly seeking RM8 billion while the state government offer was just RM6 billion.
The Bakun's output far exceeds existing energy needs in Sarawak, a relatively undeveloped state, and is mostly destined for industrial users such as aluminium smelters, but these are still on the drawing board.
"The main problem is that currently there is no demand for such a big capacity yet, and in order for Sarawak Energy to purchase the dam they would need adequate funding," said an analyst with a major research house.
"The banks would ask for some kind of feasibility study, and as there is no real demand yet this project risks becoming a white elephant," said the analyst, who declined to be named.