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Bali's Coming Power Crisis

Indonesia Digest: Bali to Experience Power Crisis in 2007?

Bali News:
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(7/31/2005) wishes to thank Ibu Wuryastuti Sunaryo for allowing us to share the following report, originally carried in the May 26, 2005, edition of her prestigious newsletter Indonesia Digest.

Although everyone agrees that Bali needs more power, the question that remains is where will the island get its power from? Or, where, indeed, can a designated Bali power plant be built, if at all? At the moment, Bali receives power from Java on the Java-Madura-Bali power grid. The projection that the island must be provided with an increase of 60 megawatt (MW) per year, has so far not been met, while demand for power is constantly rising.

Today Bali receives 535.12 MW, whereas, it is projected that the need for power in 2007 will rise to 700 MW. Yet, a solution as to how this will materialize is nowhere in sight, reports the Kompas daily of 20/7.

A number of attempts and studies have been made for the purpose. A study made by the University of Udayana on currents and waves of Baliís surrounding seas as potential to generate electricity has been disappointing, as these can provide a maximum of 1 MW only. Further, a plant to be built near the Lovina Beach near Buleleng in north Bali, has been protested by the local population. Similarly wells drilled at the Bedugul forest reserve to seek electricity generating heat, has been questioned by the community.

Meanwhile, PT PLN (Editor's note: State Electricity Board) calculates that during peak periods, and including reserve margins, Bali's needs for power already nears 700 MW, whereas present supply is only 535.12 MW. The company further calculates that each year until 2015 Bali needs an additional 60 MW.

Asked on the subject, recently re-elected Bali Governor, Dewa Made Beratha, told reporters that no decision has yet been made. Bali has stringent environmental regulations in place, where the supply of power must take into consideration spatial planning and the environment. While, Culture and Tourism Minister, Jero Wacik, when asked, said that he was not too concerned that this will impact on tourism in Bali (Kompas 21/7), since, the Minister said, all hotels and entertainment establishments already have their own gensets and have been asked to save energy.

Tourism observer, Dyak Mulahela, on the other hand, asked that the government not disregard the problem since, although large hotels do have gensets, not so the many smaller hotels dotting the island.

Bali is 563.286 sq. km. large, and has a population of 3,351 million people. In 2005 Bali expects to receive more than 1.5 million tourists. Until 2004, an approximate 96 villages have yet to receive electricity supply. Tourism is still the mainstay of Bali, as well as the driving force for most of its economic activities. Although numbers have increased dramatically during the past months, however, tourism activities and receipts have not yet succeeded in raising Baliís economy out of the slump experienced post-Bali bombing in 2002, said Governor Dewa Beratha, at a recent tourism conference.

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