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Articles - May 2014


  • 22 May 2014
    PLN to Speed Up Work on Power Plants to Ease Electricity Shortage

    Two workers fix an electricity network operated by state-owned electricity firm Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) in Semarang in this Feb. 21, 2013 file photo. (JG Photo/Dhana Kencana)

    Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. The state electricity company, Perusahaan Listrik Negara, said it plans to accelerate the construction of new power plants in order to minimize the rolling blackouts in several provinces that have caused huge losses to the business sector. According to Nasri Sebayang, director for construction and renewable energy at PLN, the development of several power plants is currently underway in areas suffering from severe power shortages. “East Kalimantan, Riau, Papua, and Sulawesi are some of the areas that have limited power supplies,” Nasri said, adding that the state-owned company is currently working on a gas-fueled power plant in Senipah, East Kalimantan, which will have a capacity of 82 megawatts.

    The province will also be home to a steam-fueled power plant (PLTU), with a capacity of 220 MW, in Teluk Balikpapan. Meanwhile, PLN is close to completing PLTU facilities in Riau and Papua, which will give the residents of both areas more access to electricity. Vickner Sinaga, PLN operation director for East Indonesia, attributed the power shortage felt throughout the eastern region of the country to a rapid growth in demand, which rose by more than 10 percent. The area currently has an electrification ratio of 59.2 percent, while Java and Bali’s ratios stand at roughly 75 percent.

    In contrast, former PLN director Dahlan Iskan said the two-day power outages experienced by Jakarta and Tangerang may not necessarily point to a power crisis in the capital and its surrounding areas. The disruptions were caused by a malfunction in the Muara Karang-Gandul power generators, Dahlan explained. “It’s bound to happen sometimes. The blackouts were different compared to those in Sumatra, which is suffering from a deficit,” said Dahlan, who is now the minister of state enterprises. He continued by explaining that Java’s power plants are all connected, which means one system’s failure would automatically disrupt other generators. “The blackouts were not because of power shortages and this can be fixed. But it cannot be done simultaneously.”

    The Finance Ministry’s directorate general of budgets said the government’s subsidy budget for energy in this year’s first quarter reached Rp 36.6 trillion ($3.2 billion), comprising Rp 20 trillion for fuel and Rp 16.6 trillion for electricity.

    East Kalimantan

    East Kalimantan has been relying heavily on the production of oil, gas and coal to support its economy. Both contributed up to 61.3 percent, or Rp 425.4 trillion, to the province’s regional gross domestic product last year, the highest of provinces outside Java. Without them, East Kalimantan’s GDP would only reach Rp 164.6 trillion. With its vast natural resources, the province has become the heart of Indonesia’s energy sector, as evident in the countless number of permits issued by the regional administration to energy and mining companies, both local and foreign, in the past several decades. However, despite being dubbed as the country’s energy supplier, residents of East Kalimantan have not been able to enjoy the energy generated by their own province. Out of a total 200 million metric tons of coal produced every year, only some 0.02 percent have been allocated for the province’s needs.

    Several of its major areas — including its capital Samarinda, where the provincial administration is situated; Balikpapan, the business center; and Kutai Kartanegara, the biggest producer of mining products — are still experiencing regular, rolling blackouts. The power disruption has been going on for years, despite public outcry and complaints from the private sector. Conditions did not change even after residents and universities joined forces to file a class action lawsuit.

    East Kalimantan Governor Awang Farouk Ishak has asked PLN to let the provincial administration handle its own electricity needs if the state company is still unable to provide sufficient supplies of power to the province. “If [PLN] is unable, please leave it to us. We will build our own power plant. If the regulation allows it, we want to do it immediately. The responsibility [to supply electricity] now lies in the hands of PLN. “I have repeatedly filed a complaint and they have also promised to stop the power outages, but they’re still happening,” Awang lamented.

    The governor suggested that the administration should ask mining companies operating in the province, such as Berau Coal, to supply coal for a power plant that the Berau district administration could build as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility program. In addition to coal mining companies, Awang continued, oil palm producers, such as Real Kaltim and Teladan Prima, could also supply energy with biogas by processing their oil palm wastes. Awang added that PLN should have been able to avoid a power shortage if only it had taken into account East Kalimantan’s economic and population growth.

    Machnizon Masri, PLN general manager for East and North Kalimantan, agreed that the province was desperately in need of larger supplies of electricity, but promised the crisis would ease in the middle of the year when the company begins operations on three new power plants. However, Machnizon added that these new facilities may not completely solve the province’s power shortage and PLN has plans to construct more power plants in East and North Kalimantan in order to successfully end the crisis by 2017. “Based on our plans, the electricity crisis in East and North Kalimantan will end in 2017. This year three power plants will finish construction and we have plans for several others until 2017. “Power supplies in East and North Kalimantan are expected to reach 1,029 MW by that year. Such a supply would far exceed the residents’ needs, of approximately 632 MW,” he said.

    Imam Taufik, spokesman for PLN in East and North Kalimantan, previously said the state company had prepared plans to build 30 power plants until 2022 to cater for the needs of both provinces.

    (Source : Globe 15 May 2014)