Sunday, July 08, 2007

the powers that be

If any of you are using electricity for cooking and have been wondering about switching to gas, I can heartily recommend it. (Unless, of course, you live in a country that actually works....)

Last year, after a series of serious power failures (Capetown was without power for 3 days because someone dropped a screw into one of the Nuclear Reactors at Koeberg, I kid you not!!!!) we decided to make a backup plan. So, when we renovated the cottage, I put our old hob and oven in there, and replaced it with a more efficient electric oven (still prefer that) and gas hob.

At the time we got a 14kg gas cylinder. Well it has lasted over a year! I finally had to refill it yesterday. OK, before we get too excited, we have to bear in mind our appalling eating habits, let's just say if we ever went off Take Aways, KFC would see a noticeable drop in revenue :)

But, given the scary state of affairs here, it is good to have it. Some person in the top echelons of our National Power Supplier, ESCOM, neglected to realise that a) things wear out eventually and b) demand for power keeps growing. OOOOPS.

When Capetown ground to a halt (very expensive too, businesses lost millions), I happened to be there for a design seminar. Try and imagine what it was like trying to get through rush hour traffic in a major city with not a single traffic light working!!!! And huge high rise buildings which rely on airconditioner for ventilation running on generators, some without backup were just plunged into darkness, computers crashed, it was like something out of Hollywood!

Anyway, naturally there was outrage and QUESTIONS WERE ASKED. Like:
  • how come there was no backup when the nuclear reactor got screwed (hee hee). It seems the other one was shut down for maintenance, parts were needed and it could not get up and running for a while!
  • Or what contingency plans were in place for future growth, answer...none!

So the head honcho, whose annual salary would support a small country, had to do some ducking and diving and lots of bulldusting, but the facts emerged.... apparently ESCOM already produces less power than the existing infrastructure needs, and we have been warned of ongoing blackouts around the country, the new catch phrase is "load shedding". Almost every night we get these POWER ALERT screens popping up on TV, red says we are about to have a major shutdown unless people immediately save power, switch of all appliances, lights etc. Then a bit later there is usually an orange one to say thanks, it is stabilizing.

To make up for their blunder, escom are now fast-tracking the building of nuclear pebble-bed reactors around the country.... don't even get me STARTED on that one!!!

So once again, South Africa lives up to its weird 1st world/3rd world dichotomy, never a dull moment I tell ya!

In the meantime YIPPEE for our gas hob, best investment we've made in a while!


Some of the changes are good, like no longer having to be taken off a ship through the surf on someones shoulders or in a basket!


Anonymous said...

my question is...what is a hob? I'm thinking a stove top?

RUTH said...

I've always used gas and find it difficult to cook with electric. I like the instant "switch off" on the hob with gas....I once made a terrible mess of my sister-in-laws hob as I didn't realise when I turned the electric ring off the heat would remain for a while and boil the milk over!!!
I've given you a Thinking Bloggers Award on There are a million stories

Shirley Goodwin said...

Oh they had those basket things here in Oamaru too, more for rescuing people I think.

New Zealand is nuclear-free, so we have to generate our electricity with coal, wind and hydro.

Janet said...

I hate cooking on electric but then I mostly hate cooking period!

Don't get me started on electricity as California is always under some doom and gloom prediction about the lack of it. And yet companies manufacture electronics that never turn off completely! And every time you turn around there's another new gadget that has been electrified. Makes no sense to me. I use energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances but still pay a fortune in electric bills.

Ash said...

Blimey, what a lot I've missed - power cuts and gas hobs and anniversary photographs and a joint exhibition and a new book - you don't hang about, do you?!
Have finally got some pics of Hugh's work and will shout about them v soon.

Suzi-k said...

hi, yes anon, it is the stove top.
Ruth, I agree, I have created much less carbonised food since I had the gas! With electric, the plates take a while to get going, and to cool down, and i tend to get bored and wander off to do something, then forget I am cooking till that familiar aroma of smoke wafts through to remind me! Thanks for the award!
Shirley, I wish our planners were that eco friendly and organised! There is lots of scope for sun and wind and hydro power here.
Janet, ya it's silly how we get so sucked into the unnecessary appliance thing! And even with the doom and gloom predictions people still keep buying the latest status symbol gadget.
Lindsay...hee hee, and this is me in laid back mode! Looking forward to seeing Hugh's latest work, I am mad about his paintings!