In 2013, REA adopted a new vision for its community development programme, which is ‘to become a leading partner in helping the community to become socio-economically self-reliant’. This vison is underpinned by a community development strategy which aims to have long term positive impacts on both the group’s relationship with the local villages and their welfare. The key elements of this strategy are:
- to prioritise investment in infrastructure projects, particularly access to electricity, clean water and roads. REA will consider supporting other infrastructure projects proposed by local communities as long as they will benefit the village as a whole
- to provide education and training that will assist members of the local communities to enter employment or establish their own business
- to involve local government and neighbouring companies in designing and implementing community development programmes wherever possible
In line with this strategy, in 2014 the group’s community development programme focused on providing two villages with access to clean water and establishing a collaboration with the Indonesian national electricity company, PLN, to provide 21 villages in the vicinity of REA’s operations with access to renewable electricity generated by the methane capture facilities.
In 2014, REA invested in the installation of water treatment plants for two villages neighbouring the REAK concession. Whereas the two villages previously provided with water treatment facilities still rely on the group to maintain and manage this infrastructure, responsibility for managing the new water treatment plants constructed in 2014 was handed over to the respective villages at the end of that year. This transition was facilitated by providing village operators with the training necessary to manage the plant and by working with the village government to ensure that all operating costs are covered by their annual budget.
In April 2015, villages in the vicinity of REA’s operations started to receive electricity generated by the group’s methane capture facilities as a result of a pioneering collaboration between the group and the Indonesian national electricity company, PLN. While the group has invested in the installation of the gas engines needed to generate an additional three megawatts of power, PLN has committed to install the infrastructure necessary to connect 21 villages, comprising some 8,500 households, to this supply of renewable energy. This includes 15 villages that were not connected to PLN’s existing transmission line in the area, which previously supplied electricity produced from diesel powered generators. If successful, there is potential for the supply of electricity from the group’s methane capture facilities to the surrounding villages to be increased from three megawatts to eight megawatts in future.
This collaboration marks the start of an exciting new era for REA, which will bring material long term benefits for local people, the planet and the group’s business. Since PLN controls all sales of electricity in Indonesia, they will pay REA for the electricity utilised by the local communities. This will provide the group with a valuable new stream of revenue. Communities who choose to have electricity meters installed will have access to a reliable source of electricity, which should act as a catalyst for socio-economic development. Since many of these villages previously relied on diesel powered generators, switching their supply to electricity from a renewable source will reduce diesel consumption and consequently GHG emissions.