Prepaid Electricity in Indonesia: A guide to PLN’s prabayar system

prepaid electricity

Knowing how to pay your electricity bill is probably near the top of things to find out for expats just relocating to Indonesia. In Indonesia, electricity is sold to customers by state owned monopoly, PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara, or PLN for short. In recent years, PLN has moved to a prepaid (prabayar) model in an effort to combat non-payment, and to save on labor costs. However, this has caused confusion among customers regarding their bills. This article will help you in understanding prepaid electricity in Indonesia.

How to Pay for Prepaid Electricity in Indonesia

Thankfully paying for prepaid electricity is very convenient. You can buy refills using your online banking account, at an ATM machine, at various mini markets, the post office, and even at online shopping sites such as Tokopedia. (Check out our article on Online Shopping in Indonesia).

If you are using an ATM or online banking, navigate to utility payment or bill payment (every bank is a bit different), then choose electricity. Make sure you are in the section for prepaid payment (prabayar), and not the postpaid (pascabayar) section. When asked, enter your meter number, which is the number written under the barcode on your meter (see illustration).

prepaid electricity
Prepaid electricity meter. The number under the barcode is the account number.

If you have done so correctly, you will see the name of the account holder displayed. For renters, this is usually your landlord. For homeowners, it should be your name. However, it could be the previous owner’s name or the developer’s agent. In case you are wondering: it is not important to change the name to your name. But make sure it is the correct account.

Then choose the Rupiah amount you wish to buy. You will be issued a 20 digit number (sometimes called token number).

Input this number using the keypad on your meter, and that’s it. You should see a corresponding amount of kWh (kilowatt hour) added to your meter.



When to Pay for Prepaid Electricity

The beauty of the system is that you can pay almost any time you want. You can check the digital readout panel to see how much electricity you have left, and act accordingly. The meter will also start beeping to alert you once a minimum amount is left.

Important: You can not buy tokens during midnight to 1 am, as this is when PLN does maintenance on their system.

How much do I actually pay?

Although you buy a certain Rupiah amount of electricity, the actual amount of electricity credited in kWh varies depending on several factors. There is a lot of confusion on this, so we break it down here for you.

The cost of electricity

Indonesia has various rates depending on usage and subsidies. For the most part, you will likely fall under the residential, non-subsidized rate. As of right now this is Rp 1467.28 per kWh for units with 1300 VA capacity or higher. It is Rp 1,352.00 for units with 900 VA capacity. For other rates (industrial, business, subsidized) you can check this page.

Pajak Pertambahan Nilai (PPN)

A value added tax. According to Government Regulation 81, 2015, PPN is levied on electricity except for residential units with capacity below 6600 VA. Accordingly, the government charges the 10% PPN tax on all residential accounts with such capacity. Accounts below that are exempt.

Pajak Penerangan Jalan (PPJ) 

Literally translated as “street lighting tax”, PLN collects this tax on behalf of the local governments. Though the name suggests that the tax is for public lighting, in reality it is just added to the general fund of the local governments. This tax varies from 3% (Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang) to 10% (Manado, Padang, Makassar) throughout Indonesia.

Meterai

Yes, the ubiquitous meterai also makes an appearance here, although not in physical form. For purchases of Rp 1 million or more, you have to pay Rp 6,000. For purchases between Rp 250,000 and Rp 1 million you have to pay Rp 3,000. Purchases below that are exempt.

Bank Fee

A small processing fee by your payment provider to cover their cost. Usually around Rp 2,500 to Rp 5,000,

Example breakdown of prepaid electricity cost

For example, for a regular residential house, with 7700 VA capacity, in an area that charges 10% PPJ, purchasing Rp 1 million in electricity only gets you 566.3 kWh. This breaks down as follows:

566.3 kWh electricityRp 830,920
PPN at 10%Rp 83,092
PPJ at 10%Rp 83,092
MeteraiRp 3,000

Finally, the bank or other service you are using will charge their fee on top of this.



My meter is beeping and annoying me

The meter will sound a beeping alarm after a minimum amount of credits are left. The way to fix it is to top it up with more credits. You can change the minimum amount of credits you have before it starts beeping. Do this by typing 456xx then hitting enter on the keypad. The xx here is how many kWh are left before it starts beeping. For example, If you enter 45610, it will start beeping when 10 kWh remains on the meter.

Difference between prepaid and postpaid electricity

Besides the obvious difference in when to pay for electricity, the rates for the two are the same. However they differ in one significant way: For postpaid electricity, there is a minimum monthly amount charged. The minimum amount is 40 x installed VA value.

Thus for example, if you have a 7700 VA meter, then you have a MINIMUM monthly postpaid charge of:

7.7 * Rp 1467.28 * 40 * 1.2 (10% PPN and assuming 10% PPJ) + Rp 3,000 (materai) + Rp 3,000 (administrasi) = Rp 548,306.

This is equivalent to 308 kWh. If you are leaving a house empty, or if you have a high capacity meter but low usage, then your monthly usage may be less than the minimum. In this case switching to prepaid is essential, as there is no monthly minimum charge with prepaid accounts. (Thank you to our forum user “sumyunggai” for pointing this out!)

Contacting PLN

You can contact PLN via their number at 123. If you are using a mobile phone it’s (area code) 123. Additionally, they’re also available on Twitter, Facebook, and email at [email protected]

Questions/Comments/Suggestions?

Got any questions? Did we miss anything? Feel free to get in touch on Expat Indo Forum!

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About dafluff 24 Articles
Dafluff is a second generation expat in Indonesia. His parents, being a mixed WNA-WNI couple, moved the entire family to Bali in the early 80s. He was educated in the Indonesian national school system, then obtained engineering degrees in the US and lived in the US and Canada. A relatively recent returnee to Indonesia, he has benefited greatly from the online expat community, and is working hard to return the favor.