PLN Struggles to Resolve Power Crisis in North Sumatra


State-owned electricity company PT PLN says that additional power supplies from existing and new power plants should resolve the acute power shortages in North Sumatra.

PLN senior corporate communications manager Bambang Dwiyanto said on Friday that the additional supplies were expected to come from the Asahan hydropower complex and the Nagan Raya coal-fired power plant (PLTU), which is now under construction.

Additional supplies would also be provided by the Belawan GT 2.2 combined-cycle power plant (PLTGU) and the Labuhan Angin PLTU, which were currently undergoing maintenance, he said.

The company has been criticized for its failure to resolve the shortage of electricity in the North Sumatra area, where supplies of power can no longer meet the growing demand.

PLN hopes the Asahan power plants, which are owned by PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminum (Inalum), will be able to increase their output to 135 megawatts (MW) from 90 MW at present, while the Belawan PLTGU is expected to provide 180 MW, Labuhan Angin PLTU 75 MW and Nagan Raya PLTU a further 60 MW.

The repair work on the Belawan PLTU was supposed to have been completed by last month, he said. “We missed the target for work at Belawan. There are a number of adjustments still needed. Nagan Raya is expected to be ready this month,” Bambang said.

The government recently took over Inalum from a consortium of Japanese companies after their contract to run the company expired.

The peak electricity demand in the northern part of Sumatra amounts to 1,650 MW, according to Bambang. However, PLN is only able to supply around 1,400 MW.

The company has hired diesel generators since last year in order to provide an additional 150 MW. However, as of last year they had only been able to provide 20 MW.

“The diesel power will be generated gradually starting from April to June 2014,” Bambang said.

According to usual practice in electricity supplying, PLN ought to provide a 30 percent margin of reserves in order to avoid blackouts when disruptions occur.

In its attempt to generate the necessary reserve margin in the future, PLN is betting on the development of the Pangkalan Susu PLTU, which is designed to have a capacity of 2×200 MW and is scheduled to be in operation by year-end.

The development of the Pangkalan Susu plant is progressing well, but there have been problems with the acquisition of land for sites for transmission towers.

Land acquisition has often hampered infrastructure development in the country. The development of a 2,000 MW power plant in Batang, Central Java, has also been delayed for this reason.

Ref: The Jakarta Post (Last Update 15 March 2014)