3.4. “Lamp Goes Out, The Water becomes Fire”: A Case Study of Micro-Hydro Power Plant in Melawi Makmur, West Kalimantan

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Nouruz Zaman Oktaby (Universitas Gadjah Mada)
Pujo Semedi (Universitas Gadjah Mada)


“Sanggau Terang” became one of the program proposed by the Sanggau government to improve procurement and development of electrical grids such as micro-hydro power plant (PLTMH). PLTMH be expected can provide electricity more affordable and reliable by communities in the village. However, rural electrification program requires consideration of social, economic, and technological aspects. This paper draws on an ethnographic case study in Melawi Makmur, West Kalimantan. The provision of electricity in the village before, the people use electricity from a diesel engine with a capacity of 50 kwh which owned by private. However, when electricity rates are increase, people start looking for alternatives electricity, such PLTMH procurement. This programs encourage people to be active and in touch with the stakeholders, such as PNPM at the district level, ESDM, and private sector.

In PLTMH procurement there are two hamlets are involved in the implementation of swadaya, that is Nek Sawak and Landau. During the development process of PLTMH, was not as smooth as imagined by the communities, there are some internal problems that obstruct development, such as jealousy because there is inequality of development in their village. This issue then leads to one of the hamlets that broke away from the implementation of swadaya. In this paper we ask why this situation arise, and what can anthropology offer on the topic. Also the explanation will focus and present a complex picture of the rural-electrification in the villages. In important addition, we’ll see how the history of mass electric was first used. And also, issues of electricity (PLTMH) turned out to demonstrate new forms of privatization at the local level. This is shown by the existence of disintegration between the hamlet at the local level, as well as the social dynamics that affect the political structure of the economy at the local level (cf. Li, 2007; Mansfield, 2008; Winther, 2008).

Keywords: development, electricity, PLTMH, rural-electrification