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Power outages in Batam hurting industries

Publication Date : 14-05-2014

 

The rotating power outages in Batam, Riau Islands province, since early this month have been adversely affecting the industrial sector and people’s activities, says Riau Islands Governor Muhammad Sani, adding that if the problem is not addressed immediately, it will weaken the competitiveness of local industries,

The power crisis is attributed to the damage to the 110-megawatt capacity Tanjung Kasam steam power plant (PLTU). Sani, who is also head of the Batam, Bintan and Karimun (BKK) Free Trade Zone Council, expressed his complaints about the power crisis to The Jakarta Post in Batam recently.

Sani revealed that his office had asked state power firm PT PLN in Batam to reactivate a diesel-fueled power plant (PLTD) to overcome the crisis. “I had hoped that PLN Batam would reactivate the PLTD, but I heard it objected to the idea. But why did they object? I want to know why,” Sani said.

According to Sani, the blackouts, which last for between one and three hours, have had an impact on the industrial sector in Batam, as production costs have increased as firms must operate their own generators.

“A number of small and medium-scale enterprises have also been severely effected, while the activities of foreign investors have been disrupted. This has weakened Batam’s competitive edge,” Sani said.

Meanwhile, Batam City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) head Ma’ruf Maulana asked PLN to explain the causes of the problem, which has occurred concurrently with the electricity price-hike proposal.

“The proposed increase in rates by PLN Batam is not good for business, especially with the imposition of the rotating blackouts due to the damaged PLTU,” said Ma’ruf.

According to Ma’ruf, as an investment area, Batam should have a power infrastructure that foreign investors can rely on.

“We’ve received quite a lot of complaints, and this must be immediately addressed,” said Ma’ruf.

Separately, PLN Batam operational director M. Tagor EB Sidjabat said the Tanjung Kasam PLTU was currently undergoing maintenance to replace a number of damaged components.

“We need more than a month to restore it because we must replace a number of damaged components and [make] repairs,” said Tagor.

According to Tagor, PLN Batam stopped operating its PTLDs more than five years ago and now completely rely on gas and coal to fire its power plants. “It would be financially unfeasible to reactivate the diesel generators,” Tagor said.

According to Tagor, the basic production cost of gas and coal power plants is 1,229 rupiah (10 US cents) per kilowatt hour, and the price is set at Rp 1,214 per kwh, while the production cost of PTLDs amounts to around 2,805 rupiah per kwh.


 

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