February 23, 2008 (Reuters) – Jakarta’s commercial and residential districts were hit by scheduled power cuts for several hours on Saturday as part of a desperate attempt by Indonesia’s state electricity firm to save dwindling supplies. Java, Indonesia’s most heavily populated island, and Bali, the neighbouring resort island, were hit by serious outages last week as bad weather hampered coal deliveries and left two big power plants on Java with only enough coal stocks to last a day or so.
Officials warned further outages were likely over the next week if the power plants could not obtain supplies.
PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), the state electricity company, said commercial districts in central and southern Jakarta and some residential suburbs were scheduled for four-hour power cuts.
Certain areas were switched off in the morning, while others were hit in the afternoon.
‘This has been announced before and is done to save power,’ Lia Dahlia, an official at PLN’s Jakarta information centre, told Reuters.
A PLN spokesman told Reuters the electricity company had enough power to supply the Java-Bali grid over the weekend provided there were scheduled cuts, but the main concern was whether enough coal could be delivered next week to prevent further outages.
‘There is enough power for the weekend, but we’ll need to get coal shipments to arrive this weekend to secure next week’s supply,’ PLN’s Mulyo Adji told Reuters.
‘Let’s hope the weather improves over the weekend,’ he added, as that would enable ships to unload the coal safely.
Indonesia’s power sector has been beset by problems because of its ageing plants, high costs and low funds as most tariffs are highly subsidised and still among the lowest in the world.
Officials say electricity demand is growing around 10 per cent a year, outstripping power supply in a country of 226 million, while investment in generating plants and transmission lines has been inadequate.