Sat, 11 Jan 2003

PLN opens bidding for Muara Tawar plant

A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

State electricity company PT PLN opened bidding on Friday for the construction of a US$240 million power plant in Bekasi, West Java, which would ensure the supply of electricity to the Java- Bali power grid.

"There are four bidders who have expressed interest in the project. We invite more to take part," PLN's finance director Parno Isworo told The Jakarta Post. He refused to name the four bidders.

He said PLN expected the bidding process would be completed soon and that construction of the power plant could be started before the middle of the year.

Construction is expected to be completed within 22 months, he said.

The Muara Tawar open cycle gas turbine power plant, located about 70 kilometers east of Jakarta, will have six power units, each with the power generation capacity of between 100 and 150 megawatts.

PLN will finance the construction of the wholly-owned project with loans raised from domestic banks, bond issuance earnings and its own capital.

To finance the project, PLN has issued Rp 3.1 trillion worth of bonds, from which PLN received Rp 2.5 trillion, Parno said.

The power plant will first use diesel as feedstock, but the company will gradually shift to gas, Parno said.

"The source of the gas is not definite yet," he said.

Several gas firms are competing to enter the West Java and Banten markets, citing PLN and industrial firms in the area as potential buyers.

State-owned gas distribution company PT PGN plans to build a giant pipeline to supply natural gas from South Sumatra to surrounding areas.

Anglo-American energy giant BP PLC and partners are also interested in supplying the areas with liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Tangguh LNG plant in Papua.

The construction of the Muara Tawar power plant is part of PLN's efforts to meet the growing demand for electricity in Indonesia, but Java and Bali in particular. Without new investments in the generation sector, it is feared that Java and Bali could face a power crisis in the next several years.

The current capacity of the Java-Bali power grid is 18,000 MW, while its peak load stands at 13,700 MW. The demand for power grows by 8 percent annually. For a secure operation, about 30 percent of the capacity should be on reserve.

Gas has been tipped as the most ideal fuel for power plants, as it is environmentally friendly and relatively cheap.

PLN has said Indonesia needs $28.5 billion in new investment in power generation, transmission and distribution networks until 2010 to meet the country's growing demand for electricity.