07 August 2006

Cut Power Cuts

With all the difficulties that North America has had in past few weeks with power cuts, you'd think that someone would have come up with a solution to the problems. The usual ideas and reasons for the current problems are being trotted out such as building more power stations, as it currently isn't keeping up with demand or making people more aware out their usage of energy.

Building more power stations is the simple way to solve the problem, but it won't help us solve the much bigger problem in the world, climate change. How is shovelling loads more coal into an inferno, letting it spew out more filth into our air and more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, going to help?

Making people aware of their energy usage is the perfect solution to the problem, but unfortunately that takes a lot of effort in educating everyone of the benefits, and then motivating them to do something about it. But let's face, humans are a lazy species, if we don't have to do it, we won't.

The simplest way is too hit us in our pockets. Hard. There is nothing quite like lighter wallet to make people finally wake up to the realities of a situation, and do something about it. Electricity is, I consider, quite cheap. What if it was whacked up by 100%. Would people learn to switch off the air-con when it wasn't needed? Or think about buying the energy efficient light-bulbs next time they have to replace the kitchen light? I think we'd soon see quite a large decrease in demand on the power grid.

Obviously this method has some drawbacks. Higher rates will hit the poor much harder, but so will blackouts, brownouts and economic stagnation based on fragility of supply. But there are ways around these problems, such as through some sort of tax breaks for the economically disadvantaged.

I would like to see another method implemented. An allowance should be worked out that decides how many units are necessary for a household to run the essential services, plus a bit extra. Before this limit is reached, the price per unit should be quite reasonable, but when this limit is reached, then the price per unit should shoot up. It would soon make people think about over usage of unnecessary equipment and using energy wastefully. This type of regulation could also work for other services, such as water, which I think gets wasted much to easily by people as it costs next to nothing from the tap.

The only problem (there's always one) is that it doesn't serve the capitalist economic model that we live in today. But there are (and in this case should be) exceptions to every rule.

2 comments:

Jonas said...

These miserable and chronically unhappy people, maybe a result of the generally bad weather, will never die out in Germany... the World Cup couldn't change that either, and was probably just hiding the facts...

Jonas said...

looks like that comment made it into the wrong article.