Electric power is one of national developments prioritized by the government under President Joko Widodo, requiring an investment of IDR 1.035 trillion of the total National Strategic Project (NSP) which amounts to IDR 4.197 trillion. Given this amount of money, contributions from private institutions are expected.
The Diocese of Banjarmasin, via the Commission for Actual Work chaired by Mr. Willy Sebastian, has participated in the national development scheme, in particular in the 9.5 years old Meratus Dayak Development Program in South Borneo. The aim of this project is to elevate the dignity of the Meratus Dayak tribe through developments in education, healthcare and socio-economy. One of the villages under development is Niwak Village; this village is located on the slopes of Meratus mountain range with very limited road access and far from the reach of the government’s development programs. However, the village’s elevated location provides a few water potentials for hydroelectricity. Therefore, following a letter requesting for adept technicians to design and construct a hydropower plant, a collaborative agreement was agreed upon between the Diocese of Banjarmasin’s Actual Work Commission and Widya Karya Catholic University.
In August 2017, Mr. Harsa Dhani from Widya Karya’s Department of Mechanical Engineering visited Niwak Village to conduct a survey on local needs and the potentials of the existing water supplies. The village residents comprised 12 households that each required 200 watts of electricity for lighting, television and refrigerators; approximately 2400 watts of electricity was therefore needed for the whole village. Afterwards, a field survey was conducted at some potential points and a river point was found to be capable of producing about 3000 watts.
Next, a power plant was designed with a dam to stabilize water flow, a penstock to control water flow, a pump-turbine, a synchronous generator, a turbine house, and a panel. The construction pieces were transported to the village and carried to the waterfall location. The Niwak villagers steadfastly participated in funding and transportation; during the construction one villager transported cement for the dam on a motorcycle and fell in a ravine while passing through a narrow path, but thanks to God, he was not seriously injured and only suffered minor scratches. It also took extra efforts to transport the 300-kilogram turbine and generator to the site, and the penstock had to be carried manually. We can see here God’s wonderful providence for those who are willing to seek His aid and rely to Him.
The micro hydro power generator system operates as thus: water collects within the dam until its flow stabilizes, then it is passed through penstocks (pipelines) to the turbine. Water pressure rotates the turbine on its axis which is connected to the generator. The rotation of the turbine rotates the generator, which in turn produces electricity.
This project has been completed successfully and now villagers can enjoy 3000 watt electricity, free of charge and free of pollution. School children can study at their homes until dusk. On March 18, 2018, the “Niwak” micro-hydro-electricity was launched by Mgr. Bishop Petrus Boddeng Timang, attended by elders of Niwak Village and other surrounding villages, Police Sector Chief Mr. Andre, Military Territory Command Mr. Yohanes, Chairman of Actual Work Commission Mr. Willy Sebastian, Mr Harsa Dhani of Widya Karya, and other guests from Niwak Villages and surrounding villages.
Salam Scientia Ad Laborem