Rizki Fachriansyah, Jakarta – State-owned electricity firm PLN has enlisted the help of the Indonesian Military (TNI) to safeguard its Java-Bali 500-kilovolt overhead transmission lines, in an effort to ensure that serious incidents, such as the hours-long mass blackout in Greater Jakarta and West Java last month, would not happen again.
They marked the partnership with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday, thereby officiating PLN's partnership with three branches of the military – the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
"We have signed an MoU with the TNI commander and the BIN [State Intelligence Agency]," acting PLN director Sripeni Intan Cahyani told lawmakers at the House of Representatives Commission VII supervising energy affairs, as quoted by tempo.co.
"[The partnership] will bolster our maintenance of the transmission lines, as well as minimize risks and causes of electrical disturbances," she added.
The cooperation agreement with the military covers the safeguarding of several PLN transmission lines within its designated right-of-way network, including the Java-Bali 500-kv transmission line.
A disruption on the line in early August left millions of households in Greater Jakarta, West Java and some parts of Central Java in the dark as the worst blackouts since 1997 paralyzed the cities. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo personally went to PLN headquarters one day after the incident to demand explanations.
PLN spokesperson I Made Suprateka said the 500-kv transmission line in Pemalang, Central Java, was particularly vulnerable to disturbances since it was situated near trees that were more than nine meters tall. One of the trees was blamed for a transmission line short-circuit, leading to a major power outage in the capital city on Aug. 4, he said.
TNI commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto concurred, saying the security cooperation with PLN was meant to prevent future mass blackouts.
"Through this cooperation, we will make sure that PLN's operations remain secure," he said in a press statement. "We wouldn't want a block of wood to cause further blackouts in the future."
He said the Air Force would be in charge of securing and re-arranging the underwater transmission lines between Java and Bali, which had been tugged away from their designated positions.
Furthermore, the military would also ensure that transmission lines running through airports won't pose any flight safety risks.
PLN had previously scrambled to stem the lasting repercussions of the mass blackout last month, as several customers filed lawsuits against the company for the material damages and losses they suffered because of it.
The company had planned to compensate at least 21.3 million customers, including businesses, in accordance with Energy and Mineral Resources Ministerial Decree No. 27/2017 on the improvement of PLN services.