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Jakarta Post

Here’s how 31 million Indonesians will get free or discounted electricity

  • Norman Harsono

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 3, 2020   /   08:20 pm
Here’s how 31 million Indonesians will get free or discounted electricity A resident checks an electricity meter in Matraman, Jakarta, on Thursday. Electricity customers in the 450 volt-ampere (VA) category will not be charged for electricity for April, May or June, in an effort to alleviate the economic hardship brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

State-owned electricity firm PLN will use both its official website and the messaging platform WhatsApp to distribute free or discounted electricity to 31 million households in Indonesia.

On Thursday, the company launched a “free/discount stimulus” feature on its website, www.pln.co.id, for eligible prepaid customers. Customers will enter their Customer IDs or meter numbers to receive a token code for free electricity for the month or a 50 percent discount. The scheme is available for the months of April, May and June.

PLN deputy president director Darmawan Prasodjo said on Friday that the token-code electricity quotas will be pegged to each customer’s “highest-recorded monthly electricity consumption over the past three months”.

PLN has also launched a WhatsApp account, at 08122-123-123, for customers to claim token codes, but Darmawan said the service would not be available until Monday due to server maintenance.

“There is a little problem, not with PLN but with WhatsApp, which is upgrading its servers due to very high traffic,” he said in a live, public YouTube briefing on the discount scheme.

Read also: Jokowi announces free electricity, discounts for households hardest hit by COVID-19 impacts

Postpaid customers in the 450 volt-ampere (VA) category, whose bills are coded “R1/450”, will not be charged for electricity for April, May or June. PLN will waive the bills.

Postpaid customers in the 900 VA category eligible for government energy subsidies, coded “R1/900” instead of the non-eligible “R1M/900”, will receive a 50 percent discount on their electricity bills over the same three months. Each bill covers the electricity consumption of the previous month.

The electricity discount was one of six social safety net programs, including unemployment benefits and food aid, announced by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Tuesday after declaring a COVID-19 public health emergency. 

The programs are meant to help Indonesia’s lower-income families for whom electricity bills are the fifth-highest source of non-food expenditure. Many such families have been hit hard by business closures. The government is seeking to prevent unemployed people in Greater Jakarta from migrating out of the virus-ridden capital and potentially spreading COVID-19 to other provinces.