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Who Turned Off the Lights in Bali?

Sudden and Still-Unexplained Power Outage Leaves Much of Bali without Power for Two Hours on March 14, 2011.

(3/19/2011) The major electrical outage that left most of the island of Bali without power on Monday, March 14, 2011, remains a mystery as State Electrical Board (PLN) executives are unable to offer an explanation for the interruption to service that left most of Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar, Klungkung and Karangasem "powerless."

The outage, that started at 11:22 am in Bali and lasted until 1:41 pm, took place when 8 of 11 substations on Bali suddenly ceased operating.

The power blackout also shut down activities at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport. Both the arrival and departure halls were left in the dark and air conditioning ceased to operate for at least 30 minutes.

The disruption in service did not, however, interrupt flight operations as the air control operations system is supplied by a back up, battery-based system.

Quoted by Kompas.com, the general manager of PLN in Bali, Dadan Keorniadipoera, told a press conference on the day following the blackout that the disruption affected sub-stations covering a distance of 40 kilometers from Padang Sambian to Pesanggaran in Denpasar. "This event is outside of human control, there was a disruption in the transmission of 150 kilo-volts," explained Dadan.

PLN has apologized to all their customers who were inconvenienced by the interruption to service. Dadan also branded the outage as a rare event. Adding, "earlier, about three years ago, in Banyuwangi (East Java), a kite caused an blackout that reached as far as Bali."

Following repairs carried out by PLN, power was restored at 1:41 pm.

Baffled, PLN continues to search for a root cause that will explain the sudden failure at 8 electrical sub-stations.