West Sumatra province which is located in the ring of fire of the world is blessed by the existence of active volcanoes contributing to soil fertility which is very suitable for agriculture. This is what makes this area become an important food sources on the island of Sumatra. The people who mostly are farmers producing rice, fruits and vegetables with excellent quality that meets the food needs of not only the people of West Sumatra, but also the community of Riau and Jambi provinces. In addition to the potential for soil fertility, West Sumatra also has the potential for geothermal hot springs used by the public as tourist attractions and hot water bath. Geothermal potential in the presentation of the Head of Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR) Service of West Sumatra is also projected to be a source of electricity generator. Currently, West Sumatra has 16 geothermal potential points. One of these potentials is located in the Geothermal Working Area (WKP) Mount Talang-Bukit Kili. In 2016, Minister of EMR decides that PT. Hitay Daya Energi from Turkey became the Winner of Auction of WKP Gunung Talang-Bukit Kili development pursuant to Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Decree Number 06 / 10.10 / WKP-4 / KESDM / 2016 regarding WKP Auction Winner decision Gunung Talang-Bukit Kili. To start exploration activities in Solok District, on June 21, 2017 PT. Hitay Energy Energy obtained an environmental permit for exploration in a designated work area. WKP Gunung Talang-Bukit-Kili is based on the reservoir area located in an area of 27,000 ha which includes 22 Nagari and 5 Districts in Solok District. The land covers agricultural areas, settlements and protected forests. The people who live around Mount Talang (Salingka Gunung Talang) are active as horticultural farmers. Agricultural land in Salingka Gunung Talang is very productive and is the center of horticultural agriculture in West Sumatra. Gunung Talang's mutual agricultural products meet the needs of vegetables in West Sumatra and surrounding provinces.
The plan to develop WKP Gunung Talang - Bukit Kili as geothermal power plant (PLTP) gets rejection from the community of Gunung Talang. In general, people who generally refuse the PLTP development plan have reasons: 1). Exploration and production activities of PLTP affect the water source, 2). Adverse impacts of geothermal activities such as subsidence and wild manifestations have an impact on agricultural land, 3). The community has never been involved in the PLTP development plan; hence, the community do not have a good complete understanding on the impact and benefits of this development. Graduate program of University of Andalas facilitates the meeting of stakeholders and experts in West Sumatra to improve understanding related to the benefits and impacts of the development of PLTP.
The meeting was held on 16 September 2017 raised some important information. Head of ESDM West Sumatra said West Sumatra has enormous energy potential from Geothermal, ocean waves, wind, water, biomass, biogas, solar energy and others. Currently, the electricity condition in West Sumatera has reached RD 96%; and RE nationally is 92%. Power plant development is projected to support industry needs. In this academic dialogue, Hasanudin from the Indonesian Geothermal Association said that geothermal exploration activities were not necessarily successful, it might fail. There are many risks in geothermal activities, one of which is potential loss due to high-cost geothermal exploration activities. In addition, uncertainty in terms of the regulation also worries the investors. Risk of failure issue is proven in Tangkuban Perahu, broken and company suffered loss. We also cannot deny that many companies are not responsible, and the central government’s accountability is not clear.
In addition to the Academic Dialogue activities facilitated by the Graduate program of University of Andalas, there are many meetings with other experts conducted including those facilitated by the West Sumatran parliament. However, the Government and companies are negligent in resolving the existing conflict, as proven by not implementing any recommendations resulted from academic dialogue, expert meeting and hearing with Legislative Council (DPRD) of West Sumatra Province. In the recommendations given, governments and companies are required to: 1). Conduct environmental economic valuation of economic activities in Gunung Talang area 2). Conduct Strategic Environmental Assessment (KLHS) for Solok District and 3). Companies are required to stop activities on the ground before any conflict resolution is agreed on as well as 4). Stop the criminalization of society. In fighting for aspirations, the community has made several protests in front of the Solok Regent's Office. But the government responded by presenting security forces to escort the company to enter the project site by force. The presence of police officers TNI AD (Indonesian Army), Marines and Pubic Order Agency (Satpol PP) to guard the company obviously injured the justice for the community. The rejection action carried out by Salingka Gunung Talang community led to the criminalization and intimidation of the community. Currently, 3 community leaders of Salingka Gunung Talang are detained and 9 others are on the most-wanted list (DPO). WALHI considers that geothermal issues are not merely seen as sources of energy; but further, this issue should be seen as a whole in the context of national and regional energy politics (West Sumatra). The critical question would be: for whose interest this geothermal project is? Is it for the benefit of the people in West Sumatra, especially in Talang mountain area? This critical question must be asked, considering that West Sumatra is one of the surplus areas of electricity; and on the other hand, it is precisely in this region that there is a micro-hydro energy source which is not only a source of clean energy but also can be controlled by the people. Therefore, the allegation is that this geothermal project aims for the benefit of industry and controlled by industry / company.