Visualizing Rural Electrification Planning using Geospatial Mapping

12 March 2019

Previous efforts by State Electricity Company (PLN) regional offices and regional governments to develop plans for providing access to electricity for un-electrified and under electrified villages has been done without spatial planning tools like Geographic Information System (GIS). For example, PLN regional office and North Sumatra Provincial Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR) Office have not had comprehensive data on energy needs of villages and limited access to infrastructure. GIS-produced maps, with various layers of information such as electricity network and distribution of roads and buildings, are expected to become a useful tool for PLN North Sumatra and North Sumatra provincial government in planning electricity access and developing electricity distribution infrastructure.

USAID Indonesia Clean Energy Development II (ICED II), in collaboration with PLN North Sumatra, held “Electrification Planning Training and Workshop” on March 12-13, 2019 in Medan, North Sumatra. A total of 48 staff of PLN North Sumatra and North Sumatra EMR Office took part in the training.

“This workshop is our opportunity to improve our work in electrification planning. I hope USAID ICED II will continue to assist PLN North Sumatra to achieve our target of 100 percent electrification ratio this year,” said Alamsyah Siregar, Distribution System Planning Analyst at the Planning Department of PLN North Sumatra, when opening the training.

The training shared the methodology and results of the basic study on electrification conducted by USAID ICED II in 2016 and 2018. The study was about processing and use of electrification data and geospatial mapping in assessing rural electricity needs. The training and workshop also updated the village level electrification data for North Sumatra Province. By the end of the training and workshop, PLN and North Sumatra EMR Office are expected to have better capacities in developing plans to electrify unserved areas, improve their understanding of current levels of village electricity access,  and increase management and transparency of data.

“The most important lesson was using GIS application and its features. I need the knowledge to understand village condition,” said Hendri, who works in mapping section of PLN North Sumatra.

Gustian from North Sumatra EMR Office said, “The GIS application enables us to combine data from the village potential statistics to understand electricity access in villages. Previously we only had district-level data.”

Head of Electricity Division of North Sumatra EMR Office, Karlo Purba encouraged the participants to take full advantage of the workshop. He said he hoped that PLN could create a roadmap to achieve a 100 percent electrification ratio in North Sumatra by 2020.

On the second day, March 13, 2019, USAID ICED II held “Workshop on Guidelines for the Off-grid Solar PV Feasibility Study” to strengthen the capacity of PLN and North Sumatra EMR Office in preparing eligible sites for centralized (off-grid) solar PV projects in rural areas. This workshop helped understanding real electricity needs and provided early understanding of feasibility study coverage so that participants can use the guidelines independently.

Retno Setianingsih, Senior Energy Program Specialist of USAID Indonesia, emphasized that the collaboration between USAID and Government of Indonesia is important to create effective policy, develop regulatory framework, and incentivize clean energy development in Indonesia.