State power utility PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) plans to invite bids early next year for the development of the Sumatra and Java power transmission networks, a company executive says.
Herman Darnel Ibrahim, PLN transmission and distribution director, said over the weekend that the company was currently conducting a feasibility study and expected that the tender for the projects, worth some US$1.2-billion, would take place in April 2008.
Herman said the company could not afford to wait any longer if it wanted to meet the schedule set out in PLN's blueprint.
According to the blueprint -- which basically itemizes the projects that will be developed by PLN, along with specific time targets -- the new transmission facilities, which also include submarine cables, are expected to be completed in 2011.
"This is important as that year will mark the start of several new power plants planned for Sumatra," Herman said.
A number of firms, both local and foreign, have expressed interest in constructing coal-fired power plants in Sumatra, where coal deposits are abundant but many people still do not have access to electricity.
PLN, which is working with these firms under the independent power producer (IPP) scheme, estimates that the planned power plants will produce enough electricity to also feed the Java-Bali power grid.
Therefore, Herman said, the transmission projects, once completed, will be able to supply electricity from Sumatra to Java, where blackouts are also frequent.
Among the power plants to be built are the 2,400-megawatt plant in Bangko, South Sumatra, and the 1,600-megawatt plant in Muara Enim, South Sumatra. Those plants will be operated by a Chinese firm, China Huadian, and local coal miner, PT Bumi Resources, respectively.
Last week, PLN awarded six contracts worth Rp 913 billion (some US$99.7 million) to local firms for the construction of power transmission lines in Java, five of which are for the construction of transmission lines for new coal-fired power plants under the 10,000-megawatt crash program.
Under this program, PLN will build 10 coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 6,900 megawatts in Java and 25 power plants outside Java with a total capacity of 3,100 megawatts.
The construction of some of the projects has already commenced.