State electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara will rent hundreds of diesel and oil-powered electricity generators to alleviate power shortages in some outlying provinces.
Renting the generators was an “emergency measure” to help quickly resolve the shortages, PLN president director Dahlan Iskan told the House of Representatives’ Commission VII, which oversees energy issues, on Thursday. Developing new plants would take at least two years, he said.
PLN has allocated Rp 2 trillion ($21 million) a year to rent the generators, the first of which would be operational this month, Dahlan said.
The generators would be used until well into 2011, when 28 projects with a total generating capacity of 7,099 megawatts would be completed, he said.
Indonesia has been plagued by power shortages in recent years, putting off investors, particularly in areas that have suffered frequent blackouts. Total generating capacity is 30,500 MW, about 4,555 MW short of total demand, according to PLN data.
Dahlan said the rented generators would be located in six areas - Bangka Belitung, Riau, northern and southeastern Sulawesi, southern and western Sulawesi, Maluku and West Nusa Tenggara.
According to PLN data, West Nusa Tenggara has a 34.5 MW electricity deficit. It will receive an additional 6 MW of capacity from this month, followed by 10.8 MW in March and then more capacity in April and October.
Maluku, with a deficit of 21 MW, will get an extra 10 MW in March and 35 MW in July.
Southern and western Sulawesi, with a 97.2 MW deficit, will get an extra 127 MW in March.
North and southeast Sulawesi, with a 27 MW deficit, will get an extra 49 MW from May.
Bangka Belitung, which has an electricity deficit of 6 MW, will get an extra 7 MW of capacity from April.
Riau, with a deficit of 10 MW, will get an extra 2 MW in March, although PLN currently does not have a plan to supply any more electricity to the province.
Some areas will be getting extra supply that exceeds their deficits because the generators will require maintenance and will not all be operating at one time.
Fabby Tumiwa, an analyst at the Institute for Essential Services Reform, warned that the plan would be expensive due to fuel and maintenance costs.
“It won’t be an effective short-term solution, because PLN will need to use more fuel and the operating times of the generators may only last for six or seven hours daily,” Fabby said.
Rather than renting generators, Fabby said PLN should build small-scale hydropower plants in areas with the most severe electricity deficits.
“It will be a more sustainable plan for PLN, considering the construction will take only a year and they won’t cost much to operate,” Fabby said.
Meanwhile, Dahlan said PLN also planned to buy more power from independent generators. In February, PLN plans to buy 231 MW of electricity from private producers, he said.
The first phase of the government’s “fast-track” electricity generating program will see an extra 10,000 MW of capacity added to the system by 2012, while the second phase of the program will add another 10,000 MW of capacity by 2014.