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Power crisis adds to Jakarta woes JAKARTA - A widespread blackout in the Indonesian capital and the surrounding West Java towns has underscored Jakarta's failure to build power infrastructure to keep pace with the growing demand. It has reinforced fears that a power crisis is looming in the country, especially as government has hardly managed to attract any new foreign investors into the power sector over the last five years. The blackout had left much of greater Jakarta in total darkness for about six hours on Thursday night.
Yesterday morning, most areas were hit again for several hours. And later in the evening, power was cut off in several parts of the city. The state power company PLN said the blackout was caused by a technical snag in the 500 kilovolt transmission system in West Java. It cut off the distribution of power to 40 electrical substations in greater Jakarta, affecting 4.5 million households and buildings. Earlier reports said an explosion occured at a power station. PLN chief Eddi Widyono did not rule out possibilities of sabotage, but said there was no 'hard evidence' as yet.
The blackout caused severe traffic congestion on the roads and left thousands of train commuters stranded for hours. In addition, 13 areas in residential neighbourhoods were razed by fires caused by flames from candles used by residents to light their homes on Thursday night. No death was reported from the fires, but officials pegged the losses at billions of rupiah. Anticipating robberies, Jakarta police deployed 7,000 officers on Thursday night while residents put up barricades to secure their neighbourhoods.
The power shortage was caused by a lack of an alternative supply system, said Mr Eddi. 'The existing backup system only is capable of supplying two million out of the 4.5 million consumers,' he said, noting that the company had had no money to finance expansion programmes to meet the growing power demands. There are now about 28 areas outside Java and Bali, where power peak loads nearly reach power generating capacities. These areas are susceptible to power shortages.
The demand from Java and Bali accounts for about 90 per cent of the 25,000 MW demand in the country. And demand from these islands alone could exceed the supply by 2003, when the peak load is expected to hit 15,441 MW compared with an installed capacity of 15,285 MW.
Legislator Emir Moeis of parliamentary commission on mines and energy warned of a power crisis if no new power plants and network system were built in the next two years. He told The Straits Times: 'This means there would be no new electrical instalment, or in the worst-case scenario PLN would install diesel generators, which would be very expensive.'
Indonesia needs about US$28.45 billion (S$50 billion) in new investment over the next 10 years to anticipate the power crisis, he said. But investors are reluctant to invest as Indonesian utility rate is still considered one of the cheapest, he said. A power crisis would add to a growing list of problems in the capital.
The administration of the newly-reelected Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso has not made much headway in coping with the escalating crime rates, the chronic traffic jams, an overstretched public transportation system, the air and water pollution apart from the proliferation of slums. Worse, say experts, Jakarta is vulnerable to another bout of severe flooding early next year, much like the one that paralysed the city in February. Although about US$10 million has been spent on flood prevention this year, public works officials say many crucial projects remain unfinished.



Posted in Power supply @ 16 September 2002 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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