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Jakarta Post

High temperatures, drought force PLN to implement rolling blackouts across Lombok

  • Panca Nugraha

    The Jakarta Post

Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara   /   Wed, November 13, 2019   /   02:51 pm
High temperatures, drought force PLN to implement rolling blackouts across Lombok Technicians of state-owned electricity company PLN replace a damaged isolator in Jakarta. (The Jakarta Post/Dhoni Setiawan)

State-owned electricity company PLN has imposed rolling blackouts on Lombok Island in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) for the past several weeks because of a decrease in its production capacity.

The policy will be implemented until the end of December.

The capacity of the company’s power plants in the region fell from 270 megawatts to 223 MW.

At the same time, the peak load has increased from 225 MW to 259 MW in the last two months, causing a deficit of 36 megawatts during peak load times.

"This forced us to implement the rolling blackout policy," the company's communication manager, Taufiq Dwi Nurcahyo, said in Mataram on Tuesday.

He said the drop in capacity was caused by ongoing maintenance activities at a number of power plants in the region as well as the prolonged dry season.

Taufiq said the current drought had lowered water supplies at the company's nine micro-hydro power plants in North and East Lombok.

Meanwhile, new customers and high temperatures were behind the peak load increase, he added.

The company has gained 80,000 new customers in the region in the past 10 months.

"High temperatures mean more people are switching on their air conditioners at night, thus increasing the peak load," Taufiq said.

He offered an apology to the public and promised the inconveniences would be resolved by the end of December, as the situation was expected to return to normal later this month.

The rolling blackouts have been met with outrage from members of the public who have suffered financial losses as a result.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bulk filling and transportation station (SPPBE) owner Bambang Muntoyo, through his lawyer Baharudin, even planned to send a legal notice to the electricity company.

"We will also encourage law enforcement officials to investigate the case thoroughly," said Bambang, who is also chairman of NTB branch of the Association of Indonesian National Construction Companies (Gapeksindo).

He said the sudden disruptions to the electricity supply had damaged his SPPBE machines thanks. Unfortunately, spare parts were not available in NTB and had to be ordered from Surabaya, East Java, or imported from abroad.

"It must have caused harm to other customers too," he said, adding that PLN did not seem to understand its customers' interests.

"If the PLN blames it on damaged or rundown power plants, why doesn't it replace them with the new ones?" Bambang said.