It’s Not Easy Being Green

Complaining Health and Crops are Affected, Celukan Bawang Residents in Demand Halt to Building Second Coal-Burning Power Plant in North Bali.
NusaBali reports that local residents at Celukan Bawang in North Bali have formed a People’s Association of Gerokgak for the Environment (Paguyuban Masyarakat Peduli Lingkungan Kecamatan Gerokgak) and launched a campaign in opposition to the second stage development of a coal-driven, steam powered electrical power plant.

The Association accompanied by the Rainbow Warrior ship owned by Greenpeace staged a water-based protest in the ocean surrounding the existing PLTU Celukan Bawang Power Plant at mid-day on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

The water-parade-cum-protest lasted some three hours as demonstrators dropped anchor 200-meters off shore from the coal-burning power plant. The Rainbow Warrior arrived at the plant after spending several days berthed at Bali’s southernmost harbor of Benoa campaigning on behalf of various environmental causes in Bali.

The protest at Celukan Bawang saw banners opposing the building of a second power plant unfurled using local jungkung sailing boats. The protest began with the reading of a statement condemning coal burning power plants read onboard Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior.

The protest was led by the leader of the local citizen’s association Ketut Mangku Wijana.

The State Power Board (PLN) has plans to build a second coal-powered plant at Celukan Bawang adjacent to the current plant that is currently producing 2 x 330 megawatts.

Ketut Mangku Wijana said that members of the local community are firm in their rejection of another coal-powered plant at Celukan Bawang and are concerned that the plant will poison and pollute the local environment. He complained that with the recent opening of Phase-One of the PLTU Celukan Bawang, local coconut tree have shown signs that they are dying off. Leaves on the trees have turned yellow and brown due to high temperatures.

Meanwhile, fishermen in the area lament that catches harvested since the plant's opening are now at a much greater distance from the village, increasing operational cost for fishermen.

Mangku said: “We basically reject the building of phase-II of the PLTU Celukan Bawang. We hope the company (PLN) can minimalize the impact that we are experiencing. We do not oppose the provision of electrical power, but we do oppose the use of coal to drive power plants.”

Mangku Wijana related his personal experience of higher temperatures and difficulties in breathing since the construction of the first PLTU Celukan Bawang. He claims local residents now frequently suffer coughs and dry throats that they link to coal dust in the atmosphere. Adding: “We don’t object to power plants in general because we all need electricity. We only ask that consideration be given to using new sources of energy that are environmentally friendly.”

Wijana also complained that there has been no socialization to local residents of plans to build a second power plant and that a permit has been issued for phase II without consultation with the surrounding community.

Separately, the chairman of the Environment and Energy Campaign from Greenpeace Indonesia, Didit Haryo, said the visit of the Rainbow Warrior to Celukan Bawang was to lend support to the public in defending the local environment.

Didit Haryo said the hoped that Indonesia in general would switch to new forms of energy production that are more environmentally friendly. He insisted that the use of coal to create energy was no longer effective and that coal stocks in Indonesia are diminishing. Adding, "If we do not soon change, Indonesian energy will depend on foreign sources.”

Didit Haryo concluded by saying Bali, as a “clean and green” destination, must seek new sources of energy. Based on studies that have been conducted on energy production, Bali would only need 1% of its total land area for solar panels to provide solar energy sufficient for the entire Island.