Ni Komang Erviani , The Jakarta Post , Denpasar
The ongoing electricity crisis has hampered both domestic and foreign investments to the tourist island of Bali since the last few years.
Tedja Nandi Yasa, vice chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said that many potential investors felt so worry over the shortage of electricity supply, one of the most important factors needed to lure capitals to the island.
"We (Kadin) have been working hard to promote Bali, but the anxiety over the minimum electricity supply has eliminated almost 50 percent of the chance to invest here," Yasa said adding that Kadin has frequently urged both the central and provincial governments to directly address the issue.
According to data from the Bali Investment Coordinating Board, investment plan to Bali only reached around Rp 53 billion (US$5.12 million) in the first quarter of 2009 as compared to investment plan in the same period last year which accounted to Rp 6.3 trillion.
Spokesman of the Bali branch of state electricity firm PT PLN, Agung Mastika, admitted that until today, Bali has only 562 Megawatt electricity power. During the peak hours, the electricity burden can reach 490 MW leaving only 72 MW as reserve supply.
Mastika said that PLN has planned to add more electricity power plants in Bali. Since 2008, the company has been constructing a coal-fired power plant in Celukan Bawang, Buleleng, to generate at least 390 Mega Watt. The project was scheduled to operate by the end of 2010.
"It seems that the construction of the plant's physical building has only reached 20 percent. I think that the inauguration of the power plant could be delayed for some time," Mastika said.
The company, he added, had previously planned to add electricity power distributed through a extra-high-voltage aerial transmission (SUTET) connecting Banyuwangi power plant in East Java with Bali. It was expected to add another 1,000 MW to Bali.
Unfortunately, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika strongly rejected the idea as the transmission cables would pass over several sacred sites and the West Bali National Park, home to Bali's most endangered species such as Bali starlings.
"We have frequently ask the governor's permission to start the project otherwise Bali will really face a serious electricity shortage," Mastika said.
Wayan Ramantha, an economist from the Udayana University in Denpasar, commented that the shortage of electricity supply was not the only handicap factors in attracting domestic and foreign investment.
"The quality of infrastructures and public facilities in Bali is still very low," Ramantha said. The condition of roads, harbors, small ports and most importantly the airport has been so bad.
"Renovation and up-grading all infrastructure facilities are badly needed if we want to attract more investors," he said.
Potential investors would likely put their capitals if they know that all facilities including physical infrastructures are in good shape. Clear regulation and taxation system are also important, he added.