The supply of reliable safe energy to households and businesses is one of the most essential building blocks to all aspects of the ZEESM TL plan for improving life in Oé-Cusse.
A reliable electricity supply allows trees to be saved from being used as cooking fuel, improves the health and lowers the work load of women in charge of households, allows businesses to calculate costs and invest, allows farmers to cook or freeze their produces until they can be sold at a higher price, at a time when transport costs are low and markets are open.
The Inur Sakato power plant [Tetum] [English] has been built can produce 17.3MW. The plant is currently only using a small portion of its capacity, the extra capacity was part of the design as supply is anticipated to rise as more households start to use electricity as their cooking and light source and as businesses expand. Power supply is automatically changed as power is drawn down. In keeping with our commitment to education, nine Timorese university graduates are being trained in how to operate the power plant in teams of four, some of them are featured in our photos on this website.
Over 70% of households in Oé-Cusse now have access to electricity. This access covers both rural and urban areas. In the rural areas of Nitibe and Oesilo for example, over 70% of households have already been connected to the grid. More households in these areas have solar panels. The households left to be connected are the most isolated ones, usually over 2 kilometers away from the current grid. Currently these households are being surveyed again to access whether they are too far from the grid to be connected. This type of assessment takes a great deal of work as some are over 3 hours hike from the nearest road. If it is the case that the grid cannot reach them, solar panels will be used to ensure their electricity supply. This method has already been successful in Oé-Cusse.
Having theoretical access to electricity is no advancement if energy supply cannot be relied on. For this reason, ZEESM TL considers the best achievement of the power plant, grid, and maintenance crew is that there has been a reliable supply of electricity since the plant opened.
The first priority for ZEESM TL is to provide electricity to the citizens of Oé-Cusse. This in itself will have a positive effect as ensuring a steady reliable source of power allows the environment to recover as timber is used less as the sole source of energy. In the design stages as far as possible an environmentally friendly option was chosen. The fuel chosen for the power plant, for example, is Light Fuel Oil, a cleaner option than Heavy Fuel Oil. Future renewable possibilities have been surveyed. Wind energy, for example, is not possible in Oé-Cusse as wind is not present all year around. However solar power is considered a viable option and in-depth surveys are now underway.