Wed, 24 Mar 1999

PLN guarantees Bali power supply

JAKARTA (JP): State electricity company PT PLN assured on Tuesday that Bali would not suffer power outages despite the breakdown of one of the two power plants on the resort island.

"People in Bali need not be afraid about blackouts. The power plant will resume operation on Thursday at the latest to secure power supply on the island," secretary of PT Pembangkitan Listrik Jawa Bali I (PJB I) Waluyo Nugroho Harjowinoto told The Jakarta Post and Kompas daily.

PLN subsidiary PJB I operates most of PLN's power plants across the country.

Waluyo said the 138.8 megawatt (MW) power plant in Gilimanuk experienced technical failure beginning last Friday.

PLN has reportedly imposed rotating blackouts at night in several towns, including Sanur, Denpasar, Buleleng and Pancasari (Bedugul).

"But repair work on the plant is progressing well and on Thursday, when the power plant will resume operation at half of its peak capacity, the entire island will have enough power supplies both day and night," Waluyo said.

"The interruption in the operation of the power plant is merely because of a technical problem. No nontechnical factors are involved."

He said broken diffusers created difficulties in combustion and start-up at the plant. The company has dispatched new parts from Java to return the power plant to full capacity.

However, Waluyo said technicians at the power plant believed they would be able to fix the system to operate at half capacity pending the arrival of the new components.

Waluyo said Bali normally received a power supply of 335 MW, including 140 MW from Gilimanuk, 95 MW from the island's other plant at Pesanggerahan and 90 MW from Java through an underwater cable.

The island's energy needs are about 170 MW during daytime and about 270 MW at night.

An employee of state fishing company Samudra Besar, Sutarjo, told the Post that local residents were surprised by a short power outage on Friday.

"Normally, PLN makes an announcement prior to any power blackout," said the Denpasar resident.

He added that most residents of Bali were unaware of the problems at Gilimanuk because they were not covered by local newspapers.

"But even if the power plant has problems, we don't want to see them reported by local newspapers due to the fear that such a negative news story could cause unnecessary worry among the public and the tourist industry, whose operations depend mainly on power supplies," Sutarjo added.

Until last year, Bali's sole power plant was at Pesanggerahan, with the rest of its energy supplied from Java through the Java- Bali inter-connected power grid.

PLN decided last year to relocate one unit of the Muara Tawar power plant in East Java to Gilimanuk to secure power supplies on the island following damage to underwater cables.

PLN's contractors have tried to lay six underwater cables to transmit power from Java to Bali since 1984. Only one of the cables can operate properly, with the others damaged by ships' anchors or rocks. The strait separating Java and Bali is known for its strong undercurrent.

Analysts fear Bali could suffer blackouts in the future if it remains dependent on one underwater cable. (jsk)