14 January 2009

Dash Experiences a Change

Remember how I posted a long time ago how relaxing it was to lose power on Sunday nights, to light and candle and write in my journal or something?

Well, when we hit winter, the load shedding (I prefer the term load sharing, but apparently that's the wrong thing to say - god forbid we actually call it like it is) schedule increased gradually, more and more each week to where it is now, at a strong healthy 16 hours per day. Until now I have been blissfully inexperienced regarding the schedule because I live near the diplomats and ministers and president. According to the 'nature of their jobs', they need power 24/7. You might believe that this could be argued about just about any professional, but that idea simply doesn't seem to click in the brains of the important people. Apparently the infrastructure is too old to specifically allow power to go certain places, so our whole part of town stays lit up like a runway while everyone around us is in darkness.

Finally, after months of this kind of thing a journalist finally thought it might be worth attacking the uppities for this holier than thou attitude and brought it to everyone's attention. A bhandh (strike) or two regarding the issue was enough to get us to start load shedding. I'm not sure whether I'm now at the full 16 hours per day or not, as there has been very little communication, so I have to just prey that when I get home from the gym there is electricity to boil the kettle in order to have a shower. OH yeah, I don't think I've mentioned, my solar water doesn't get hot enough during the day anymore (potentially because the sun is clouded over by a thick penetrating fog that would give trial soccer matches at Iona college a run for their money) and partly because I try to have showers at about 6pm, when the sun is definitely on its way out. So to ensure I have comfortably warm water I now shower out of a bucket using a concoction of water, two parts boiled kettle water to three parts cold tap water that I am surprised can make it through the pipes without freezing

Just think what losing 16 hours of power per day could do to your business. There's no lights, there's no refrigeration, many cooking appliances become heavy metal objects and your computer will last the amount of time you have battery charged which itself will quickly decrease because of all the power surges... Also, for those of us not running businesses, that 8 hours of power per day is not likely to be while you are at home. Remember one has to work 8, sleep 8 and i know that you aren't home all the rest of that time...

Is there a solution? Well maybe, do you have an inverter? An inverter will suck electricity out of the network when you are technically not getting any - I think. Do you see a problem with this? Like perhaps, the whole point of load shedding is to share the available electricity amongst all the people that need it? If you are sucking out power when its not your turn all you do is contribute to the increase of time periods then the power will be out! HOW CAN YOU BE SO INCONSIDERATE! (says I who have had power for the last few months - and enjoyed it immensely - since the election of the [communist, should I need to remind you] prime minister who believes his profession is that much more important that he needs power at home 24/7

There's another alternative. Diesel powered generators. We have 4 at work and when they are all functioning (which is hardly ever) they guzzle more than 50 litres of diesel AN HOUR! Being a hospital, you can hardly afford to have the power cut out in the middle of surgery so it is a necessary evil while the personal needs of ministers and embassy's is put over that of healthcare.

The government** promised that the days of load shedding would be over when they came to power* - a stupid promise really, because you can't change things like that by snapping your fingers, yet the country is experiencing load shedding on a level never before experienced. Their solution is to eliminate load shedding ('or minimise it' <- there's your out clause) by building diesel powered power plants to meet the immediate need. This seems preposterous, because of the insane cost of diesel, but also because by the time they get something like that up and running, it will be summer again and there won't be such a demand for power as there is now. Better to invest the money in the long-term eco-friendly renewable energy sources, but then, that's not this government's strong point*. We have a country rich in hydro and thermal power-generating potential yet many people are without clean water or power*.

So as my friend's mock me for my inexperience regarding this shift to load shedding, the planning of hot showers, and the best time to get on the internet to call your family and significant other, the proud moment where I planned where to find my candles and lighter - I'm justglad that I'm getting the same treatment as everyone else.

*Rants for other days, as this has already become quite long.
**The 'government' BTW, is actually only interim, until the Constituent Assembly finishes writing the constitution. A process that has not yet started* after 6 months.

1 comment:

Shaun said...

Haha! Shedding or sharing? I think it depends entirely on your perspective -- if I had previously been accustomed to 24 hours of power each day (as I am now, admittedly!), I'd probably refer to it as "shedding" as well!

Gawd, I barely slept last night because it was ridiculously hot in Melbourne, so I went to bed at 8:30 pm yesterday; it's now 3:36 am, I'm done sleeping for the moment, and I'm reading your blog. I have a feeling this won't turn out well tomorrow.