Earth hour: Vote Earth – your light switch is your vote. Ballot box rigged by Nepal Electricity Authority

What to say? Just heard this on the FM4, an Austrian internet radio station, about Earth Hour. “We’re encouraged to switch off all non-essential lighting for one hour”.

“VOTE EARTH: your light switch is your vote.”

Welcome to Kathmandu, where Earth Hour has been going on for many years. Currently the zealously green government has been giving the citizens of Nepal an enforced buy-one-get-16-free option on these votes and stuffing them in the ballot box for on their behalf.

Every day, for 16 hours the government turns all of your switches off – both inessential lighting and everything else with it. Additionally they topped up the Earth Hour manifesto with turning off non-essential street lighting, traffic lights, mobile phone company power supplies, all industrial machinery, my local bakery’s ovens, power supply for kidney dialysis machines, ECG machines and anything else you can think of that has a cable with a plug at the end somewhere.

Long after the world switches its non-essential lighting back on and starts wasting energy again like there is no tomorrow (and that is looking increasingly more likely), we here will be sitting in the dark. Either that or burning Olympic-size swimming pools of imported diesel in generators to keep normal life going.

The irony is that the power we are missing would be hydro-power. But due to years of incompetence, rampant theft of power and some dry weather, the system is more than a little creaky.

Here’s a tip for all Earth Hour participants: at 8.30pm, go the whole hog (not the half hog), flick that big red switch on your fuse box. Enjoy!

Uneven load shedding

This appeared today in the letters ot the editor section of the Kathmandu Post.

No load shedding

We understand that the demand for electricity exceeds the supply and that the NEA has to resort to load shedding [the enforced shutting down of sections of the power grid to share out limited electricity supply]. The hours of darkness are getting longer. However, one wonders why some places never have load shedding even when the whole city is without electricity. A huge area near our house in Lazimpat never has load shedding. This is not fair! If it were a public facility like a hospital, we would understand. But it’s just another private house. Why this discrimination?

Rajendra Khadga

Well, I am embarrassed to admit that I am one of those living in an area with 24/7 power supply. I am no wiser than Rajendra as to the reason, although there was talk of one of the houses nearby once being inhabited by a VIP. Of course it is as unfair as it is wonderful for me. Load shedding is a great hinderance to the citizens of the city. Moving along unlit streets is plain dangerous. Trying to study or read by candle light is no easy task. The prominant industrialist Binod Chaudary noted this as one of the concerns of the business community while this government is apparently aiming for double digit economic growth.

While I could turn the power off at the appointed times, I don’t think I will. I will promise however to limit myself to one light at a time and power to the internet connection and laptop until this area joins the rest of suffering citizens.

Saying this, there is a lot of work to be done here in terms of energy efficiency. More about this another time – when I have done something about it.