Electrons and Beancounters

It is many a blue moon since we last looked at the cost of electricity in Indonesia and there is a reason for this – things have been in flux so to speak. For quite a while everything has been as confused as the American election system. Changes were made with the progressive removal of subsidies, the removal of the abonement (a fixed charge before you used any electricity), the removal of stamp duty and, on top of all this, the introduction of prepaid “pulsa” meters which seemed very vague when it came to subsidies.

Finally things seem to have settled down and the calculations are generally a lot simpler than before except for one important factor, a floating price for electricity has been introduced.

Some time ago the government removed the fixed price charged by Pertamina for petrol and diesel fuel and they allowed the price to fluctuate according to the international price of oil which, as we know, has plummeted over the past couple of years. This has lead to a great wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth in the middle east and Arabs are selling their cars to buy camels.

No doubt, one day the price will rise again and there will be wails across the archipelago as the cost of putting a bit of benzin in the old sepeda motor becomes more expensive than Donald Drumff’s hairpiece.

PLN have now followed Pertamina’s lead and have linked the price of electricity to the floating price of oil and, as a result, the price of those little electrons is changing on a regular basis. Somewhere in a small office in the very seat of power a wrinkly old man peruses the oily invoices, wrinkles his furrowed brow, picks his nose, grunts and declares:

“This month the price of electricity will be, er, erm, Rp. 25,000 per kWh.”

“Oooh that’s a bit steep sir, it was only Rp12,000 last month.”

“Yes well I’ve had a bad day you know, the dog chewed my favourite slippers this morning and my wife has run off with a satay wafter from Madura. Why should anyone else be having fun?”

“But there’ll be revolution in the streets sir, the hairdressers are really upset, they can’t afford to run their hair driers.”

“Oh alright then, for June we’ll make it Rp1,364.82 a kilowatt hour, that’s a nice round figure to keep the beancounters busy.”


The cost of Electricity

To understand how much we pay we need to know a couple of things. Our electricity connection allows us to use up to a certain “flow” of electricity which is determined by multiplying the voltage in volts (V) by the current in amps (A) giving us volt/amps (VA).

In Indonesia our power is supplied at 220 volts so if PLN install a master switch (the blue switch on the front of the meter) that allows us to have an electrical current of 25 amps then our power connection is 220 volts x 25 amps = 5,500 VA. This is our Tariff.

The electrical power we use is measured in watts (W) or in kilowatts (kW), a kilowatt is a thousand watts. Electrons are pretty small and counting them is a little time consuming so we calculate the amount of electricity used by multiplying the amount of electricity flowing in watts (W) by the time it is flowing in hours (h) giving us watt/hours (Wh). Our electricity bills are usually charged per kilowatt hour (kWh – a thousand watts flowing for an hour).

For June 2016 the price of PLN electricity is as follows:

  • For people on very low tariffs of 450 & 900VA (Volt Amps) their electricity is subsidised* and they pay on a sliding scale.
  • For people on domestic tariffs R1 (1,300 and 2,000 VA), R2 (3,300 to 5,500 VA) and R3 (6,600 VA and above) the price of electricity is Rp1,364.86 per kWh.
  • Forpeople on business tariff B1 (450 to 5,500 VA) the price has been fixed for the time being (it is not subject to monthly variations) at Rp 1,100 per kWh.
  • For people on business tariff B2 (6,600 to 200,000 VA) the price is also Rp1,364.86per kWh.

The full schedule is as follows:

Tariff Power


Price per kWh Notes
R1 450 VA 0-30 kWh – Rp 169

30-60 kWh – Rp 360

> 60 kWh – Rp 405

Residential Tariff

Sliding scale

No minimum bill

R1 900 VA * 0-30 kWh – Rp 169

30-60 kWh – Rp 360

> 60 kWh – Rp 600

Residential Tariff

Sliding scale

No minimum bill

R1 1,300 VA to

2,200 VA

Rp 1,364.82 Residential Tariff

Minimum bill applies

R2 3,300 to

5,500 VA

Rp 1,364.82 Residential Tariff

Minimum bill applies

R3 6,600 VA and above Rp 1,364.82 Residential Tariff

Minimum bill applies

B1 450 VA to 5,500VA Rp 1,100 Business Tariff

This price is fixed

B2 6,600 VA to

200 kVA

Rp 1,364.82 Business Tariff

Minimum bill applies

B3 > 200 kVA Rp 975.49

kVArh Rp 1,049.85

Business Tariff

Penalty for excessive peak loading

I3 200 kVA to

29,000 kVA

Rp 975.49

kVArh Rp 1,049.85

Industrial Tariff

Penalty for excessive peak loading

I4 > 30,000,kVA Rp 939.85

kVArh Rp 939.85

Industrial Tariff
P1 6,600 VA to

200 kVA

Rp 1,364.82
P2 > 200 kVA Rp 975.49

kVArh Rp 1,049.85

Penalty for excessive peak loading
P3 Rp 1,364.82
L  Rp1,542.63


Note: 200 kVA is 200,000 VA

* PLN have set a target to remove the subsidy for 900 VA connections by July 1st 2016 however the decision has yet to be made by the house of representatives.

Minimum Charges

PLN have also introduced a regime of minimum charges for people using the old post paid electricity meters. People on the new prepaid “pulsa” meters do not have to pay a minimum charge. The minimum charge is dependant on the size of the connection and will vary as the price of electricity varies. It is worked out as follows:

If your supply is 450 or 900 VA there is no minimum charge.

If you have prepaid “Pulsa” meter there is no minimum charge.

If your supply is 1,300 VA you will be charged a minimum of 52 kWh ie. 52 x 1,364.86 = Rp 70,973 in June 2016. If your supply is 2,200 VA you will be charged a minimum of 88 kWh and so on. Here are the minimum bills:

Minimum Bills

Power Connected Minimum Use Charged Cost of Minimum kWh Plus lighting charge 5% Minimum Bill
450 VA 0
900 VA 0
1,300 VA 52 kWh Rp 70,973 Rp 3,549 Rp 74,521
2,200 VA 88 kWh Rp 120,108 Rp 6,005 Rp 126,113
3,300 VA 140 kWh Rp 191,080 RP 9,554 Rp 200,634
4,400 VA 176 kWh Rp 240,215 Rp 12,011 Rp 252,226
5,500 VA 220 kWh Rp 300,269 Rp 15,013 Rp 315,283
6,600 VA 264 kWh Rp 360,312 Rp 18,016 Rp 378,328
7,700 VA 308 kWh Rp 420,377 Rp 21,019 Rp 441,396
10,600 VA 424 kWh Rp 578,701 Rp 28,934 Rp 607,618
13,200 VA 528 kWh Rp 720,646 Rp 36,032 Rp 756,678
16,500 VA 660 kWh Rp 900,808 Rp 45,040 Rp 945,848
23,000 VA 920 kWh Rp 1,255,671 Rp 62,784 Rp 1,318,455
33,000 VA 1,320 kWh Rp 1,801,615 Rp 90,081 Rp 1,891,695


What this minimum charge means, of course, is that if you increase the amount of power to your house then you will be paying a larger minimum bill if you go away and leave the house empty.

Excess Peak Load Charge

You will note that on tariffs B3, I3, I4 and P2 there is a price for KVArh. This is “Baya kelebihan pemakalan daya reaktif”- a penalty charge for excessive power use. If you use more than 85% of your connected power (if you have a 300 kVA connection then anything over 255 kVA is excessive) you will be charged at this higher rate for the power used during the period of excessive use.

Peak and Off Peak pricing

For tariffs B3, I3, I4 and P2 the PLN price schedule allows for charging of electricity at different rates for “peak” and “off peak” periods. This is a common system used in many countries under which electricity is cheaper during “off peak” periods when not many people are using power (usually through the night or at weekends) and more expensive during peak periods.

In fact this system is not in use at the moment – the price of electricity is the same at all times of the day. On your bill these periods are marked WBP (Waktu Beban Puncak – peak load period) and LWBP (Luar Waktu Beban Puncak – outside peak load period)

Street Lighting Charge

Finally we are charged 5% extra on our bill for a street lighting charge.


If we have a supply of 6,600 VA and we have used 500 kWh in the month of June (remember the price may vary from month to month). The minimum use for 6,600 VA is 264 kWh so our bill will be calculated as follows:

500 kWh @ Rp1,364.86              =        Rp 682,430

Plus 5% lighting charge                =        Rp  34,121

Total                                             =        Rp 716,551


But if we had only used 150 kWh in the month of June our bill will be:

Minimum charge 264 kWh @ Rp1,364.86 =              Rp. 360,323

Plus 5% lighting charge                      =           Rp. 18,016

Total                                                  =          Rp 378,248



Phil Wilson

Previous “Fixed Abode” articles can be found subject indexed on our website at www.mrfixitbali.com. Opinions expressed are those of Phil Wilson. He can be contacted through the website or the office on 0361 288 789 or         08123 847 852. 


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