So there you are, working at your computer, trying to meet the next deadline. And then, poof, there goes the power. No thunderstorm to knock out facilities. No squirrels fried in a transformer. Just no power. And the outage remarkably lasts for almost precisely three hours. And it happens frequently.
It’s getting a little frustrating working here lately, as the power is likely to go off unannounced, and stay off for several hours. Figuring there must be a reason, we finally found out that the state-run electric company was having a problem with one of its generators. Not exactly a problem – the generator had failed and the company was forced to implement rolling blackouts across Batam.
To the utility’s credit, it does post the times and locations of the coming outages in the local newspaper. Unfortunately for us, the local paper is in Bahasa Indonesian. We are now having staff monitor the newspaper for the outage schedules – but we are still being blindsided. So we are learning to save our work as often as possible.
The generator problem will not be fixed until early July, the utility says, but that could just as easily turn into early August or September. So, in the meantime, we are getting surprise half-days off at least once a week. It’s put us a bit behind on some of our projects but we’ve been able to get the newsletter out without too much trouble.
A lot of companies on the island have their own generators. Some are used only during outages and others are the companies’ main source of electricity. Several of the industrial parks here not only have their own power plant but they also process their own water supplies. These parks might have 80,000 workers who live and work onsite, so the power and water are important.
We have our own generator at Smiling Hill, but its main purpose is to keep the Goodies Restaurant food from spoiling. So at Goodies, the fans work and I can plug in my laptop. The fans are a help in the heat but the office AC is much better, although unavailable during outages.
The bright side is that during these outages I can work on my next book or do some blogging, as I am right now. My photo/essay travelogue about Rome and Sicily is almost complete and with a couple more outages I should be able to post it online for purchase.
I’m not unfamiliar with such outages, having experienced numerous ones during my 14 months in Costa Rica. There, however, the outages were usually related to weather and the power was usually restored in a relatively short time. These here are planned, rolling blackouts of about three hours each time, once or twice a week, always during work hours.
I wonder if those in charge at the utility will figure out they need to have a backup plan for when their generators go out that doesn’t include inconveniencing their customers. Oh well, life in a developing country.