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Power to the people

March 10, 2009

The state government in Kerala is suspending load-shedding for the next two weeks while students take their final year exams. Usually there is half an hour of outage in the evening, so it’s a treat not to be plunged into candle-light. Businesses are grumbling. “If they can keep the power on for the students, why can’t they do it for us?” one shopkeeper asks. “We spend so much on a generator, or else we lose business.”

But the state has posted adverts asking people to be frugal with power, and to switch off electricals that consume a lot (including fridges and water heaters) between 6pm and 10pm. The state electricity board is heading for meltdown that will likely see power cuts for longer periods once the 2 weeks is up. Part of the problem is politics: with elections coming up, neighbouring states that have 6-hour daily outages are looking to improve supply and are queuing up to buy more electricity from Kerala. But the reservoirs that feed the hydroplants are lower than usual because there has been little rain this winter. And winter is already over, early, in the north of the state. Power consumption has soared by nearly 10% in the state alone.

I’m stocking up on candles.

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