PLN’s Christmas Gift to Bali: Another Month of Power Cuts

DENPASAR ~ State power monopoly PLN had some very bad news for Bali this week – it hasn’t fixed its maintenance problems at the Gilimanuk power station and the rolling blackouts it commenced in October to allow for this work will now go on until at least January 15.

Two weeks ago PLN said the blackouts, which it had first said would end on December 10, would end early – on November 26 – because the Gilimanuk maintenance was being completed more quickly than estimated.

But this week it said it hadn’t been completed and the hefty rotational power cuts that have blighted Bali for two months would now go on another month. And the prime Christmas-New Year tourist season won’t be exempt.

Its Bali spokesman, Agung Mastika, says PLN has failed to make the necessary repairs at Gilimanuk. But in mid-November – two weeks ago, as reported in The Bali Times – he said:

“It seems maintenance at PLTG Gilimanuk will be finished on November 26. With faster completion of the programme, electricity in Bali is expected to be normal again.”

Under the load-shedding programme made neces-sary by Gilimanuk’s maintenance problems, large areas of Bali are blacked out – notionally on a published schedule but in fact at random – at peak power-use times.

Mastika said this week: “The reason is there is damage to the compressor that was repaired and there are tools that must be ordered from overseas. So it takes extra time.”

Christmas and New Year would not be exempt from blackouts, he said.

PLN has been widely criticised for failing to make available accurate information of when consumers can expect to be without power and for causing financial loss and hardship to consumers, including small business operators and artisans.

It’s not only the lights that go out when PLN pulls the plug on its consumers: Government water provider PDAM and its customers also have been badly impacted by the power cuts.

PDAM’s Denpasar director Putu Gede Mahaputra said last month the rolling blackouts had disrupted distribution of clean water to PDAM customers in Denpasar.

Almost all processes in the supply of drinking water to Denpasar consumers required electricity, he said. “So these power outages have caused major disturbances to the distribution in Denpasar of clean water,” said Maha-putra.

Although PDAM was in some cases using generators, service to the community was affected as the machines did not generate sufficient power to maintain normal water supply, he said.

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