Dahlan Iskan Leads PLN Race

Jakarta's recent blackouts have left PLN's residential
customers fuming while business owners
struggle to keep their doors open

Businessman Dahlan Iskan on Friday confirmed that he has interviewed with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in connection with the president director’s position at state power company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara. “The first person who summoned me was the president himself early last month [November],” Dahlan told on Friday. Dahlan is the chief executive of the Jawa Pos media group as well as the part-owner of an independent power producer in East Kalimantan. PLN has been under extreme pressure to solve the frequent blackouts in Greater Jakarta. Yudhoyono and Mustafa Abubakar, the state minister for state enterprises, have both warned current PLN president director Fahmi Mochtar that if PLN could not end the blackouts then his job could be on the line. Dahlan confirmed that he had already met Mustafa, “twice three weeks ago,” along with the team the government formed last month to oversee the reshuffle at PLN. However, he said he did not know whether he would be offered the position. “It’s still not certain yet,” he said, declining to disclose what he had talked about during the meetings. Dahlan owns a stake in a 50 megawatt power plant through independent power producer PT Cahaya Fajar Kaltim, a joint venture with the Jawa Pos group and the East Kalimantan provincial government. Speaking at his office after Friday prayers, Mustafa confirmed he had met with Dahlan twice over the past few weeks. “Yes, Dahlan is one of the candidates. I have interviewed him twice,” he said. Mustafa said the other two candidates were current PLN employees, but he declined to reveal their names. According to a source from the State Enterprises Ministry, M Agung Nugroho, PLN’s current director for strategic construction affairs, is a candidate. “Dahlan is still not certain to become president director. Fahmi may also be re-interviewed for the job,” the source said. A ministerial team is conducting a “complete evaluation” of the embattled power company, including technical issues, the pricing of electricity and the performance of the current management team. Mustafa said the selection process has been finalized and that he would receive the team’s report by the end of this week. “Next week, the ministry will filter the nominations and send it over to the final appraisal team to make a decision,” he said. “I hope we will see results before the end of the month,” he added. Meanwhile, Fabby Tumiwa, an independent electricity analyst, said changing PLN’s management alone would not solve the country’s energy problems because the problem did not rest entirely with PLN. He noted that the government expects PLN to sell electricity for less than it costs to generate it, but only subsidizes part of this deficit. This means PLN is frequently in debt and has had little money to spend on important maintenance, he said. “Half of the problems come from the government’s policies and programs so the system also needs to be improved,” Fabby said.

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