Despite a power shortage due to technical and coal supply problems, the Palu branch of the state-run electricity company PT PLN has promised no blackouts during the Ramadan fasting month.
"We have repaired the 15-megawatt generator, so power supply to customers will be normal," Yustono, manager of the Palu branch of PT PLN, said on Sunday.
He added that previously, there were rotating blackouts in Palu due to delays in coal supplies disrupting power generation, as well as problems with transmission systems.
Yustono said that the Palu PLN distribution system was based on two power grids, with a capacity of 11 and 12 megawatts respectively.
"But now, we should not worry anymore because we have enough power supply for this Ramadan," he said.
Separately, Alkhairaat, a large Muslim organization in Eastern Indonesia, called on the government to establish an autonomous regional PLN company in Central Sulawesi, to meet increasing customer demand.
The PLN Palu branch is currently under the PLN North Sulawesi, Gorontalo, South East Sulawesi and Central Sulawesi region, which comprises one autonomus PLN region and which has its regional office in Manado, North Sulawesi.
Chairman of Alkhairaat, Ali Aljufri, said the current organizational structure of PLN has hampered electricity services in Central Sulawesi.
"PT PLN in Central Sulawesi has no right to make any decisions. For example, we need the agreement of the Manado regional office just to buy diesel fuel to operate the engine".
Students grouped under the Youth and University Students Commission and the Indonesian Youth Party have staged protests in front of the state-run electricity company PT PLN in Pekanbaru due to unscheduled frequent rotating blackouts across the region in the last month.
The demonstrators unfurled posters on Friday, condemning the incompetence of PT PLN and its inability to cope with prolonged electricity supply problems that people have suffered under for too long.
"Through this action, we want to express popular demands and inform PLN it must solve these problems soon," said a protester, Ade Arnas, adding that they wanted to ensure PT PLN will not impose blackouts during the fasting month.
After making a-half-hour-speech with tight security, six of the demonstrators were allowed to have a meeting with the head of Pekanbaru branch of PT PLN, Erikson Sidabutar to discuss their demands.
Erikson told the protesters that the frequent blackouts happened due to technical problems and natural factors.
"The turbine of the Ombilin coal-fired power plant in West Sumatra that supplies electricity to Riau is being repaired. Besides that, the severe drought has reduced the water volume at Koto Panjang hydro power plant in Kampar regency," he said.
During the meeting, the demonstrators asked PLN not to impose blackouts during Ramadan in order to maintain its serenity. But, unfortunately, the company could not meet this request, due to power shortages.
Erikson said that PLN simply cannot guarantee not to impose blackouts at the time of the pre-dawn and fast breaking meals.
"We regret that we have to enforce blackouts during Ramadan. But we try to ensure that the blackouts will not occur between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. or between 2:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.," said Erikson.
He explained that PT PLN Pekanbaru had tried hard to overcome a 21 megawatt power deficit by buying four megawatts of surplus electricity from PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper and another two MW from PT Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper. However, even after these steps, they still could not meet all the demands for peak power.
PT PLN Pekanbaru, will also relocate an 18MW generator from Medan to Teluk Lembu PLTG to help overcome local power shortages.